Letterkenny retains ‘clean’ status in litter survey

Letterkenny as pictured from the spire of Conwall Parish Church.


The final litter survey of 2020 by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) shows Letterkenny retaining its “clean” status and rising to 15th place in the ranking of 37 towns and cities. Kilkenny again took top spot, ahead of Killarney and Ennis. According to the report, litter levels continue to rise nationwide, with fewer than half of the towns surveyed deemed clean.


The An Taisce report for Letterkenny stated: “It is pleasing to note how Letterkenny has established itself as a consistently clean town. Over half of the sites surveyed got the top litter grade. These included the residential area of Hawthorn Heights, the grounds of Church of Ireland (Conwal Parish Church) and Upper Main Street – what sets these and other top-ranking sites apart is not just the absence of litter but the overall presentation and maintenance of the environment.  The residential area of Ard Adhamnain and the Recycle Bank at Donegal County Council Offices both suffered from heavy accumulations of litter.”

In all, litter levels rose in 24 of the 37 towns and cities inspected by An Taisce at the end of 2020, resulting in only 17 being judged to be clean – a fall of over 25% on last summer and in sharp contrast to just 3 years ago, when 80% were clean.

According to IBAL, the survey results are consistent with a trend in recent years. “The decline in cleanliness is less a case of the poorer areas getting worse, but of previously clean towns slipping to littered,” says IBAL spokesperson Conor Horgan. “Covid is clearly a factor here, but we should never accept litter as inevitable. It comes down to people disposing of their waste without regard for their surroundings or their fellow citizens and it is entirely unnecessary.”

One explanation for the rise in litter lies in the restrictions surrounding cleaning services during the pandemic.  “While council workers have not been on the streets as much as normal, the general public has been spending more time than ever out of doors,” says Mr Horgan.  There was a sharp rise in the amounts of litter on approach roads to towns, reflecting the fact that the benign winter has seen masses of people out walking. “Ironically, too many of them are showing a shameful disregard for the environment they are enjoying.”

PPE litter

Coffee cups were among the most prevalent litter types found, while there was another rise in glass bottles and cans, suggesting that outdoor drinking has not waned over the winter months.  The survey also showed that the second half of 2020 brought a further increase in PPE-related litter, primarily masks.  “8 months into the pandemic, we would have hoped people would have moved to reusable masks with a resulting fall in mask-related litter. In fact, we are seeing more and more of them ending up our streets,” says Mr Horgan.


Position Area Classification
1 Kilkenny Cleaner than European Norms
2 Killarney Cleaner than European Norms
3 Ennis Cleaner than European Norms
4 Tullamore Cleaner than European Norms
5 Portlaoise Clean to European Norms
6 Fermoy Clean to European Norms
7 Bray Clean to European Norms
8 Waterford City Centre Clean to European Norms
9 Newbridge Clean to European Norms
10 Maynooth Clean to European Norms
11 Sligo Clean to European Norms
12 Castlebar Clean to European Norms
13 Gorey Clean to European Norms
14 Ranelagh Clean to European Norms
15 Letterkenny Clean to European Norms
16 Athlone Clean to European Norms
17 Tralee Clean to European Norms
18 Limerick City Centre Moderately littered
19 Galway City Centre Moderately littered
20 Roscommon Moderately littered
21 Drogheda Moderately littered
22 Waterford City – Ballybeg Moderately littered
23 Cavan Moderately littered
24 Cork City Centre Moderately littered
25 Longford Moderately littered
26 Galway Inner City – Ballybane Moderately littered
27 Monaghan Moderately littered
28 Dundalk Moderately littered
29 Dublin City Centre Moderately littered
30 Tipperary Moderately littered
31 Tallaght Littered
32 Mahon – Cork City Littered
33 Mullingar Littered
34 Navan Littered
35 Limerick City South – Galvone Littered
36 Dublin North Inner City Seriously littered
37 Ballymun Seriously littered

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