"For there to be a 'best' there must, unfortunately, also be a 'worst'." I remember with crystal clarity my primary school P.E. teacher saying these words to me, a consoling hand resting upon my shoulder, "and, well... perhaps the shot-put just isn't for you." With that, he stood up and headed to retrieve the cast-iron-orb I'd accidentally hurled through a nearby window, and to apologise to the geography class inside.
Well, as is so often the case, what is true for vastly incompetent amateur shot-putters is also true for large, zoned urban areas.
The Irish Business Against Litter have released their annual assessment of forty Irish towns - conducted by An Taisce - ranking their level of cleanliness. The organisation which, in spite of the implications of its name, is comprised of a collection of businesses rather than one single business that has made it their mission to adjudge fluctuating trends in littering on an annual and regional basis, released its rankings this morning. And so, for one town to be crowned the cleanest in Ireland, another must be ranked the worst and that accolade unfortunately falls to Ballybane in Galway.
The towns and cities were rated based on the amount of litter evident in public places and the number of litter 'blackspots' as well as several other factors. The 40 areas assessed were graded as being either "Cleaner than European Norms"; "Clean to European Norms"; "Moderately littered"; "Littered" or "Seriously Littered". Now, you may be wondering what on earth constitutes this "European Norm". Is there some perfectly averagely littered European town that is used as the benchmark against which all other European metropoles are judged? Well, after a quick search of "average European town", the first result in Google Images was in fact, conveniently, Dublin. So simply imagine that all other entries on this list are simply judged against the apparent European median of litter, Dublin.
Confusingly though, the second most littered area surveyed by An Taisce was 'Dublin North Inner City' which was described as 'Seriously Littered' a fall from last year where it was only classed as 'Littered'. So while I leave you to try and get your heads around the idea that Dublin has been judged to be more littered than Dublin - the average European city - here are the five most littered areas in Ireland, according to IBAL, in ascending order:
40: Galway City - Ballybane
39: Dublin North Inner City
37: Cork City Northside
36: Cork City - Mahon
Fermoy in Cork however was ranked as being the cleanest town in Ireland, taking the mantle from Ennis which has fallen to third place in the rankings. The full list can be seen below.