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Upcycling goes Innovative and Creative across Tipperary

Published 11 months ago 24th September 2021 by Editor

Tipperary County Council’s Environment & Climate Action Section extended a challenge to the people of Tipperary, to use their imaginations and get creative to make something new from what would otherwise have ended up as waste. It’s clear to see from the entries received, that this challenge captured the imagination of young and old.

The competition was kindly funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. It aimed to get people thinking about reusing and recycling items to reduce waste and to inspire individuals and communities to get creative and innovative with materials, that would otherwise be discarded as waste.

Marion O’Neill (Senior Executive Officer), Cllr Marie Murphy (Cathaoirleach, Tipperary County Council), Anne Marie Clif- ford (Staff Officer) Lisa Flanagan (Clerical Officer) Sean, Breda and Sarah Brett. Kneeling, Paul and Caoimhe Brett with their hen house. PHOTO: ODHRAN DUCIE

Forty one applications were received, which included upcycled furniture, the repair of a preloved record player and sewing machine, making various items from horse shoes, repairing old bicycles, making garden furniture from buckets and copper cylinders, using old clothes to make bags, transforming old hardback books into gifts or keepsakes, upcycling old socks for use as a kitchen pot scrubber, using old railway sleepers to make a fire mantel, upcycling various parts of a piano to make household items and making bags and dresses from flour sacks.

The judges said they had a tough job and were very impressed by the entrant’s ability to see potential in their old items and how entrants used their skills to make practical, useable pieces. Everyday items were used in most cases, so anybody can replicate the entries they like and support their environment and the circular economy at the same time. The Section worked with various Men’s Shed groups in Cashel and Clogheen, who put their skill to use and used pallets and unwanted paint to make buddy benches, window boxes and flower containers for Tidy Towns Groups and local schools.

Many entrants told us how working on these projects helped to sustain them during the Covid lockdown and proved to be a useful exercise in managing mental health.

Tipperary County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Marie Murphy, along with staff met and presented the winners with their prizes on Tuesday, 7th September The Cathaoirleach was “delighted to be part of the important upcycle challenge that was organised by Environment and Climate Action Section, we are all aware of the need to reuse, repair and upcycle perfectly good items and turn them into something to give them a longer life. This upcycle challenge is a perfect way to showcase what reuse and repair are all about and how they contribute to climate action”.

Margaret Matuszewska (Cashel) with her upcycled garden bench and Cllr Marie Murphy (Cathaoirleach, Tipperary County Council). PHOTO: ODHRAN DUCIE

The Brett Family from Ballycahill were overall winners, with a vibrant new henhouse made from unwanted pallets. Their hens had recently hatched two new chicks and with their expanding flock of hens, a larger hen house was needed. Rather than buy a new coop, the four children opted to design and build their own using various upcycled items found around the farmyard. Materials used included timber pallets, expanding metal, tree branches and timber cut-offs. When constructed it was painted with used car engine oil and left-over paints. The hens and chicks have now relocated and are enjoying their new upcycled home”. Encouraged by her friend to enter the competition and from her interest in art and crafts, Margaret Matuszewsha from Cashel designed a new garden bench. Two old chairs with only their frames destined for the bin, received a makeover and for her efforts she won second prize. The upcycled garden bench is now a proud feature in Margaret’s front garden”.

In third place was Pat Bracken, who was given an old Raleigh bike from a friend doing a clear-out of his shed. During Covid-19, Pat decided to bring the bike back to its former glory and now uses it to and from work and around Thurles town.

Covid-19 lockdown also inspired Jane O’Connor from Borrisoleigh, our fourth runner up, who decided to make cushions and clothes alterations and turned her spare room into a craft room. A footstool was needed and rather than buying new, Jane decided to make a footstool from an old plastic beer crate, which she covered with recycled fabric.

In 5th place was Timmy and Anne Ryan from Nenagh. Timmy who is retired, always had a flair for repairing items and Anne suggested they make a birdbox for their garden. An old tin bucket and saucepan lid was upcycled to make a colourful birdbox. This is proudly displayed in Anne’s garden.

October is national re-use month and is inviting the public and all organisations, to hold and attend community– based workshops in a variety of areas including managing food waste and upcycling everything from fashion to furniture. The aim is to bring people beyond the idea of “reduce, reuse and recycle” to a more conscious prevention of waste, in the first place. For this and more information on October Ireland’s National Reuse Month, please visit Tipperary County Council’s website or

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