Denis founded Tidy Towns in Emly 25 years ago. Through his work with the group, he has brought many awards to Emly throughout the years. Denis doesn’t seek recognition for his volunteering, he just wants the people of Emly to be proud of the lovely village that we live in.
In 2009 Emly won the Best Small village in Ireland and the Tidiest Town in Ireland. Since the win in 2009, Denis has traveled the country giving talks to other volunteer groups, helping to promote TidyTowns. In 2010 Emly won a silver medal in the Entente Florale Competition in Europe and the most livable community in the world. In 2011 the town won Irelands tidiest village once again.
Denis worked with South Tipperary County Council for 26 years as a general operative. He had to retire in March 2005 due to ill health. He suffers with diabetes and he also had a hip replacement. Denis has acted as a full time carer in recent years for his wife following a brain aneurism. Throughout personal issues and challenges Denis has remained committed to volunteering and his work for the community and Tidy Towns. Denis also volunteers on the local school committee, Emly Variety Players and Fas committee.
Denis was nominated for a Volunteer Ireland Award by his daughter Sharon Cunningham. Sharon said “He is still the most active member today, you could see him in the village washing signs, picking litter or painting at anytime and you could not miss him as he does all this with a walking stick due to his hip replacement.”
Photograph by William O'Brien