Tidy Towns was first launched by Bord Failte in an effort to improve the appearance of towns and villages throughout Ireland for the main tourist season.
In 1995, the Department of the Environment and Local Government took over responsibility. Tidy Towns is all about caring for our environment. The Tidy Towns is concerned with the physical appearance of the towns and villages, it also takes into account a wide range of other factors which make up the Irish town and village environment. Tidy Towns seeks to encourage local communities and make each town and village a cleaner and better place for the environment.
Best Kept is run by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council, it is run in a wide range of categories. Realizing that the "Best Kept" message needed to be put across at an early age, the Council introduced a Primary School category. This been success, in 1993 they introduced a Post-Primary Schools competition. It then expanded into more categories and is now an award that is know throughout the area as an award that is all about caring for your environment and keeping a clean and healthy place to live.
This is competition run by the Northern Ireland Amenity Council and the Department of the Environment and Local Government. Ireland's Best Kept Towns award is where the top towns from the Northern Ireland Amenity Council's Best Kept Awards and the Department of the Environment's Tidy Towns Competition compete with each other for the honor of being adjudged "Ireland's best".