What is the Tidy Towns’ Contest?

The headlines in yesterday’s Irish newspapers informed us that the village of Moynalty, in Co. Meath, is the 2013 winner of the national Tidy Towns’ contest. Woohoo! Cue the confetti & fanfare. But, what exactly is the Tidy Towns contest when it’s at home?

Moynalty, Co. Meath. The 2013 Tidiest Town in Ireland (photo: wikipedia commons)

Moynalty, Co. Meath. The 2013 Tidiest Town in Ireland.
(photo: wikipedia commons)

History of the Contest

In the early 1950s, the Irish government ran a “National Spring Clean” campaign, with the general aim of making the place presentable and attracting visitors. In 1958, “An Tostal” was held, a year-long festival celebrating all things Irish (a forerunner of 2013’s “The Gathering”), and the Spring Clean morphed into the Tidy Towns initiative.

How it works

Local councils and civic groups get together to spruce up their town or village, and enter it in a national competition. Local honor is at stake more than financial gain, as the prize itself is minimal compared to the amount spent on civic improvements and the thousands of hours put into local upkeep by volunteers year-round. But, the honor of winning can put a village on the map. Irish towns and villages helpfully position a sign announcing the name of the village on all approach roads — which is a major boon to most travelers — and villages who have won the Tidy Towns contest usually erect a grand sign decorated with flowers and boasting of their achievement (see pic above). Then the pressure is on for the town to keep looking like it’s only just won the honor, even when the prize may have come several decades previously.

The competition has long transcended its tourist-driven origins. Originally administered by the Irish Tourist Board, Bord Fáilte, the task has long been transferred to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, as the benefits of attractive, litter-free, and community focused urban areas raises the standard of living for all.

832 towns and villages entered the competition in 2013, and the categories and winners were:

Ireland’s Tidiest Village: Moynalty, Co. Meath ** Overall Winner

Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town: Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Ireland’s Tidiest Large Town: Killarney, Co. Kerry

Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Center: Ennis Co. Clare

2013 Winner

Moynalty (Maigh nEalta, meaning “the plain of the flocks”) was previously awarded a Tidy Towns’ Gold Medal in 2006, illustrating how the award reflects many years of steady work and improvements. It is the second town in Co. Meath to win the overall award, after Trim, which has won the top prize three times.  The village is most famous for hosting an annual Steam Thrashing festival every August.



Learn more at the Tidy Towns’ website…



Tags: , ,


  1. Nancy Brock’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing. Please tell us about the Steam Thrashing Festival.

    1. Rich’s avatar

      Yes, I should work on that…

    2. Lois Farley Shuford’s avatar

      Moynalty is my Irish home away from home – where my g-grandparents were married. It’s a wonderful, welcoming place of just 1500 or so people. Each year they have a huge steam threshing festival that brings people from all over Ireland and even some from England. It’s a great celebration of country life from years past. They have a Facebook page for the Threshimg – just go to FB and look up Moynalty and you’ll find it. Always the 3rd Sunday in August.
      I’m so happy for Moynalty winning the Tidy Towns – they deserve it!

      1. Rich’s avatar

        Really! That’s great. I used to go to the steam thrashing when I was a kid, but haven’t been there for it in years. School goes back just too early in the South.

Comments are now closed.

%d bloggers like this: