Local Bundoran Tody Towns committee members include, from left: Matt Tuttlebee, Gina Witherow, Shane Smyth tourism officer, Cllr Michael McMahon
For anyone out enjoying the beautiful coastal walks around Bundoran, it is clear that some hard work has been taking place to enhance the experience for both locals and tourists alike.
It is a scene repeated in towns and villages around the county, as many people are beginning to re engage with outdoor spaces around them, like never before.
While the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged communities throughout Donegal, it has also refocused the mind and body on the nature and beauty that surrounds them.
One of the group’s looking towards their own community in recent times has been the small but active Bundoran Tidy Towns committee.
Gina Witherow, one of the organisers of the committee believes that the way forward on such groups is to have an egalitarian structure and one of the reasons that the collective structure means they don’t have individual titles on their committee.
“I’ve been involved locally with the tidy towns movement for a number of years. Each year we set up a number of achievable projects that we feel can enhance the experience for anyone in the town. We also tie that in with GAP year students who travel from overseas,” she said.
This brings on the next point which is that despite the lockdown, the committee still found it extremely difficult to recruit volunteers to help out with the various projects.
“That is the point that is really disappointing. I thought with some people not working and others with a bit more time on their hands, it would see more people volunteering, but that had not been our experience today.”
“On the other hand we are deeply appreciative of the support and encouragement that we are receiving from local businesses. The bottom line is that the more people that we can get out to volunteer will see more projects that we can engage with.
“We have a list of jobs that need to be done, but even something like donating two hours of your time, twice a month would make a huge difference. It could be for just an hour or even a half hour, as the engagement is just as important as the job itself.”
One of the ideas that she has is to put a call out to local businesses who might volunteer a staff member for two hours a month to help out.
“I have to say we have been very lucky with the support of our local business community and I have no doubt this will continue as it is a winner from all perspectives.”
Some of the more recent projects have been cleaning up and tidying up around the areas of the tourist office at the Promenade area.
“We planned and weeded this area. We also repainted all the signage around the tourist office and the area around the American House car park. We were also actively involved in the West End boat quay project, which was a key project and we also engaged in some planting along the west end walk.
She said that this was also an area that she hoped would be further developed.
One of most important projects this year has been the area at the top of the Bundoran boat quay and the placing of an upturned boat at the entrance and the gravelling and planting of the entrance area.
“Future projects would be more planting along the cliff walk there, the creation of biodiversity areas and the creation of a new digitised version of the old bird signs attached to the back of the lifeguard hut at the town’s main beach.
Gina said that interfacing with some of the new technologies out there will see people being able to download apps and the like onto their phone and identify with their children things like the kind of coastal birds that frequent or visit Bundoran bay each year.
“This will help kids identify the local wildlife in the area and we will also be getting some murals done, which will be revealed in due course,” she explained.
She said that the combined efforts of everyone involved has seen the improvement in marks in the annual national tidy towns competition.
“This is the end result of many years of hard effort by committees going back many years and who I would like to acknowledge at this point. These improvements are as much about the local population enjoying their own facilities as they are about visitors to the town when restrictions are eased. We have come a long way, but there is still huge work to be done.
“And someone reading this can be a really important team member in moving forward some of these great projects in the future, Remember all is we are a couple of hours, twice a month. It will be a legacy that we can pass onto the new generation of people living in this wonderful resort.”
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