Forty-six communities from across County Limerick are busily preparing for the judging stages of the 7th annual Limerick in Bloom competition which takes place later this week and during next week.

Limerick City and County Council, in conjunction with the JP McManus Charitable Foundation, hosts the competition as a motivational mechanism for the many small locally based groups throughout Limerick to enhance the visual impact of their settlements by means of flower, tree and shrub planting.

This year’s participating community groups will be seeking to emulate the success of last year’s overall winner, Athea Tidy Towns, and category winners, Ardpatrick Tidy Towns, Cappamore Estates Committee and Castle-connell Tidy Towns.

Limerick in Bloom 2014 features seven community groups who are taking part for the first time: Elton Tidy Towns, Dromcollo-gher Tidy Towns, Abbeyfeale Tidy Towns, The Village Residents, Springfield Residents’ Association, Slugaire Residents’ Association and St Ita’s Voluntary Housing Association.

According to Mr. Kieran Lehane, Director of Services, Environment: “Despite a stormy start to 2014, the largely fine weather during the summer has assisted Limerick’s communities prepare for this year’s competition and it has also helped to further enhance the physical appearance of many of the county’s towns and villages. The council, with the support of the JP McManus Charitable Foundation, is delighted to have played its part in this process,”

Competition categories are based on population size with a first, second and third prize in each category. Category 1 features villages with a population less than 300, Category 2 is for population centres of between 300 and 700 people, Category 3 caters for towns and villages with a population in excess of 700, and Category 4 includes Housing Estates and Community Areas.