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It was only four years ago that the Willow Grove Estate in Dundalk featured on a national newspaper’s website with the headline: “Check out the potholes in Louth which are so big ducks are mistaking them for a pond.”
A lot has changed since then. The estate was brought under the control of Louth County Council in 2019 which, along with a contribution from the residents, allowed the long running potholes saga to be brought to a conclusion with the estate being resurfaced later that year.
Fast forward to today and the residents of Willow Grove are vying to retain their title of Best Estate in Louth won in 2021.
It’s been a collaborative effort from young and old residents, said a spokesperson for the Residents Association who took the Democrat on a tour of the estate.
The residents do their own maintenance, gardening, planting and cutting their own grass which they say has “really fostered a great community spirit and attachment to the place.”
“The residents association runs a whatsapp gardening group and some evenings we put the call out that a bit of work needs to be done and we always get a great response.
“Without the volunteers we’d be lost, but each family comes out and has their own little allotment which makes everyone feel part of it.
“When the road was finally resurfaced it really brought back a sense of pride of place where children can play around the estate again and ride their bikes up and down the road which there’s no way they could do before.
“Some of the older residents from the older parts of the estate have planted rose bushes here in memory of somebody who died so in a way it's a memorial place.
“We’re conscious that visitors coming from Dundalk via the Carrick Road one of the first impressions of the town that they get is Willow Grove.
“We like to think we’re presenting Dundalk well to people coming into the town for the first time.”
Biodiversity is also a major element of the work the residents undertake with sections of grass dedicated to the planting of wildflowers and rewilding.
They have also planted fruit trees to replace Ash trees that died with Ashdieback in the hope of attracting more insects and bees.
While Covid meant group cleanups and plantings were out of the question it did allow residents to focus on their own garden plots with one Best Estate judge remarking that not one garden in the estate was unmaintained.
“We’re always trying to raise funds for improvements and we hope to have a quiz night and a funday later in the year raising money through events but everyone is very good with contributing.”
Residents also say that they are grateful for the support of Louth County Council particularly the engagement of CEO Joan Martin and the help of former Director of Services Frank Pentony along with the support they’ve received from the local Credit Union.
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