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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 30, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    The Best Place to Live in Ireland

    Edel Morgan

    Are you one of those jammy people who has found the best place to live in Ireland

    Are you one of those jammy people who lives in a place where  you  intend to spend the rest of your life and have no interest in looking any further? Do you find yourself  waxing lyrical (and ad nauseum) to anyone who will listen about the  merits of your area ?  If so, why not nominate it in our competition, The Best Place to Live in Ireland which starts tomorrow in the Weekend section of the paper and online at  www.irishtimes.com/bestplace.
    As one of the judges in a new Irish Times competition  I  will try to keep my envy at bay as I read through the entries because although I’ve found my ideal place, I don’t actually live there. I like where I live  but am guilty of occasionally  looking  over my shoulder at the greener grass in the next suburb.
    The best  “place” can be  a  town/village/area/suburb/townland/ housing estate and we want you to  tell us  in no more than 500 words on www.irishtimes.com/bestplace why it’s so great .  There will also be a number of questions asking you about the local environment and facilities in your area but don’t be put off if you area doesn’t fit the criteria, it’s the pitch that is  most important.
    The   judging panel is made up of myself,  my  Irish Times colleague and  environment editor Frank McDonald, psychologist  Maureen Gaffney,  architect Paul Keogh and statistician Gerard O’Neill from Amarach Research  and we all have our own ideas about what makes the best place to live.
    To mark the start of the series a number of Irish Times journalists including John Waters, Conor Pope and Carl O’Brien will write about their best place.  So do you live in the best place in Ireland?
    • barb.ie says:

      Not in a house that you own anyway, no matter where it is, thanks to Big Bad Phil..!

    • Kate.Q says:

      My perfect place is buried deep.
      And it is as though one has been assaulted by the memory.
      Assaulted. Not quite. Nonetheless, the unexpected surfacing of a memory might have the same effect on the psyche as a sudden blow to the ribs would surely have on a body not expecting that. (Not so much like a sudden blow to the ribs this – more in the nature of a building up to something – as when paddling barefoot in the sea and feeling something sharp underfoot – a seashell – a jagged rock – and being wary, but not fully realizing a wound until back on dry sand and seeing blood, and pain has begun and is increasing – a crescendo). I don’t quite know how to get from ‘not expecting that’ (which I wrote above) to describing the memory that one was not quite ‘assaulted’ by, except to say: And it begins like this. When I was little (being a girl) a small funfair would arrive at our seaside village every summer. For us (children) it was quite wonderful – out of this world; very extraordinary. “Swinging boats” for small people – vivid colours – swirling images; some kind of higher, double-decker swing boats for bigger people, and a rifle range – there were probably more “things” but that is what I remember – as well as non-stop music, which when I think of it now, all the songs reeked of nostalgia, wafting up and out from the funfair all day until quite late – and which, again looking back from a now perspective, had a mildly psychotic air about it; but of course, I did not know such words then and may have felt something perhaps that everything seemingly wonderful seemed always to be tinged with strangeness and a little sadness. (I have a memory of my father – Daddy – having to go over to the funfair people one time requesting if it might be possible that they could turn down the music a little as his wife was in the throes of a particularly bad migraine – something my mother – Mammy – suffered dreadfully from). The people that operated the funfair lived in sort of half-moon shaped caravans which seemed incredible to me (half-moon shaped to my child’s eye, at any rate and so the memory) and the whole thing was situated straight across the road from my house (hence the necessity for my father’s errand of mercy mentioned above) and on a small plot of ground which edged on to a grassy bank overlooking the sea where the sun sparkled and we were aware that another country – England – was on the other side of the horizon, which we perceived as that line exactly between and all along where the sky touched the sea – when it wasn’t foggy. There was something of there being a tent, inside of which films were shown and this was a most enthralling thing and profoundly affecting – I am not quite sure whether this operation was run by a different group other than the funfair people and at a different time to their being there and whether two memories are fused into one (I have no desire to untangle them) but there was something about the purchasing of tickets outside of the tent and then being inside a tent with bare ground underneath sandaled feet and something about the ends of the tent flapping a little in the wind marking an unstable boundary between inside and outside – between orchestrated darkness and natural daylight (somewhere here, I think, is the essential most impacting part of this unexpected memory that I had not quite been assaulted by) as we siblings and other children sat in high spirits on wooden benches in eager anticipation of what was going to manifest itself on the screen before us. I have no memory of the films – just the intoxicating atmosphere of anticipation (perhaps that is the essence of the thing) and simply being there. Many years later and I, myself a widow was visiting my mother, also a widow at the time. My mother’s car had broken down and she had called the local mechanic. She explained to me that he was one of the sons of the people that ran the funfair all those years ago. I just could not believe that one of those mysterious “other world” people from that magical place was now living and working in the ordinary world. And my mother completely understood this thing.
      (Beloveds, Mammy and Daddy, now deceased, R I P)
      The perfect place I speak of is Laytown, Co. Meath, Ireland. The time is the 1950’s

    • Edel Morgan says:

      Hi Kate, please enter the competition at http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/best-place. I’m going to put the link in my blog now so you can get straight to the competition page from there.

    • PJ Power says:

      North county Dublin has many fine spots. Swords, its defacto capital, has come a long way from small rural ish village to a big town full of amenities: shops,cinema, eateries and some nice spots to live that are close to the town.
      Malahide, it’s leafier cousin has that seaside X factor, well-known pubs and restaurants and a good bus and DART service.
      More northerly is Skerries. Again benefitting from a coastal location is easy on the eye and and has bus and train links to the city and beyond.
      Worth consideration.

    • Edel Morgan says:

      But if you had to pick one best place out of these, which would you pick?

    • PJ Power says:

      Hmmm I’ve spent a lot if time in all of those places. Horses for courses. Swords has the night life and the amenities. Malahide has more aesthetic qualities and Skerries has the sea and located close to some great parks.

    • Kate.Q says:

      Thanks Edel @3 but I have no inclination (self-discipline?) to condense my “stream of consciousness” ramblings into a neat five hundred words for the purposes of competition, which is one of the reasons why I threw my Master’s dissertation in the bin.! However, I do realize it is tedious for people to read such “un-paragraphed,” perhaps incoherent, text and it would not bother me at all if you hit the “delete” button. This is such an interesting topic to contemplate, at any rate, and such topics worth contemplating always take one into another dimension. Good luck to everyone in the competition.
      PS — loved John Waters’s contribution…

    • JOD says:

      I quite liked your piece Kate ! Do you write anywhere else?

    • JOD says:

      Where i live is the best place to live in Ireland simply because my lady love lives here also. And my kids aren’t on the other side of the world from me like they were for a very long time either. So is that short enough for ya Edel?

    • JOD says:

      Know the feeling. “I did not know such words then and may have felt something perhaps that everything seemingly wonderful seemed always to be tinged with strangeness and a little sadness”
      - the Japanese would call that ‘mono no aware’ and certainly not mild psychosis but then again the Japanese are a very civilised People. From your admirable insouiciance regarding the Moderator’s Spike t least you don’t suffer mottinari – a regret for wilful waste. Don’t know how anyone can live here and not feel it but then spent too long in the Far East meself going out in the noonday sun might have picked up a bit more than the odd burn.

    • Richard says:

      Just found out I’m 75% Irish (O’Keefe county Cork). Never been to Ireland. Born, raised in Michigan,USA. Lying here in bed reading the Irish Times, as I do everyday.
      Read everything Ireland! Long for the day to really explore the Best Places to Live in Ireland. I’m over here reading your comments each day – so enlighten me, will you? I love how proud you are of these places. Someday, I’ll join you there! Edel Morgan, thanks for creating this great forum!

    • Edel Morgan says:

      Hi Richard, would love to take the credit for the idea but I’m just one of the judges. Glad you are enjoying it, Edel

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      I used to live in Galway City ( born there too actually) but the rain drove me out

      I now live in sunny Dublin , which is actually the driest place on the island of Ireland. Galway has nearly twice the amount of rainfall Dublin has

    • barb.ie says:

      @11 Richard — I’d hate to burst anybody’s bubble Richard but I’d be exploring the other 25% of your ancestry if I were you. We’re in a double dip recession here in the faded green Emerald Isle and the Celtic Tiger has changed the people and the landscape…..maybe irrevocably; but perhaps the austerity being foisted on us now will be to good effect Anyway, there’s always a Céad míle fáilte here for folks from Amurakey dontcha know..!

      (@8 JOD — it’s only meself ya eejit..’nother pseudonym !!!)

    • JOD says:

      Ah yes barb.ie but who are ‘you’? :)

      And do you write like that anywhere else? Find it v. interesting to read lumps of raw memory ripped bleeding and wriggling from the inside of anyone’s head w/out edits refinements or touching-up generally. I’d agree with the Stoics in that. Touching up paintings diminishes the truth and increases the ”truthiness’.


    • Patrick Hennesy says:

      The best place to live is only known to those who have lived in a few different places. The marriage between a location and one who has never left it, is like an arranged marriage or a marriage of conveinance. I write this because I fear that, in response to your invitation, those who will be most eloquent about the “best” place are those who have never lived in an alternative place. Should your local supermarket (the only one in town) sell only one type of apple perpetually, and you like apples, it will become the best apple in your life. Moreover you will learn to describe it as such.

      I have lived in 8 different countries and as many homes. I call them all homes as they were “homes’ (and I felt them to be such) when I lived in them. Location is what you bring to it, much more than what you get from it. Bring an open (not naive) and searching mind; a love of diversity, and a love of people ……..and the best place to live will be where you are now, wherever that is ……. even prison.

      Patrick Hennessy


    • JOD says:

      Guy told me on a plane from San Francisco that the world inside our heads causes us far more negativity than the world outside our heads. He looked like an hippy but in fact was one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley and one of the brightest people I’ve ever met.

      So I reckon the best place in Ireland to live for anyone is outside our f’d-up thinking-too-much over-analysing deluded Irish heads. Anywhere. Long as it’s outside them.

    • Scarecrows of the Stipe says:

      I ‘ve also lived in a few different countries namely

      Pontypridd, Wales
      Seattle, USA
      Den Haag, Netherlands
      Incheon, South Korea
      Brisbane, Australia
      Sydney, Australia
      Melbourne , Australia
      Wellington ,NZ
      Queenstown, NZ

      Loved Melbourne but couldnt care less if I never saw Sydney again………….

    • Jules says:

      I think most of us reading the Irish Times would have spent quite a time living abroad (in my case a year in France being the longest time living abroad) but the best place to live in Ireland is the topic here. This country, the actual countryside, is so beautiful that anywhere you live can be made the best of. A little garden, a little gardening, a little civic mindedness (as in keeping the area around your dwelling free from litter, etc), a Church, a park, a library, some nice eateries, shops………..but all of that……I mean all of it……can be absolutely destroyed when neighbours from Hell move into an area……even worse, beside you……I could tell stories…

    • DeclanR says:

      This is a good idea but has the potential flaw of cheerleading. Tat is, everyone who enters an opinion to this competition must by nature be very passionate about were they live. But what about dissenting voices? Sure – all these people think [enter name of town] is a great place with great facilities but is that representative of the community in general?

      There is a similar site http://www.likeplace.ie allows people to say why their hometown is NOT a good place to live, and has a list of the worst places to live in Ireland.

      Of course, that is open to abuse too but at least there is balance. How does the IT aim to ensure the loudest & most persuasive cheerleader does not simply win the day?

    • sinead horgan says:

      I heard your advertisment on the radio last week for this competition as i was driving home from work. The sun was shining down on all the fields around my house and the wind was blowing the green fields which turned the grass into silvery strands- at that moment i felt compelled to nominate the area i live in. I am not originally from the area but married one of its natives. I am originally from tralee and lived there with my husband up to three years ago when we moved to his home place of Knockavilla which is in the parish of Innishannon in Co Cork. Innishannon has long been made famous by Alice Taylor but I am talking of a place three miles up the road.
      The most striking positive about this area is the locals sense of community. Four years ago my mother in law died and the ladies of this community opened the parish hall after the burial where they provided their home baking and waitressing services to all who attended the funeral. Astonished by this I asked why did they do this and the answer I got was that this happens all the time. They seem shocked that I was surprised as if this was the norm everywhere. There is a church, a school, a community hall, a pub and a shop in knockavilla. It looks down upon Upton and has a ringfort on top of the hill. It is a true country haven yet we are only fifteen minutes to Cork city. It has kept the rural charm and good family and community values. The locals mind there own and welcome the new. Everyone minds those who need help or who are sick. The parish priests, the teachers, post mistress and local shop keeper all lend to the attributes of this great community.It has alot of attractions but I think the key to calling somewhere home is not what is there but who is there.
      My children are being raised in an area that teaches them not just in school but in the community the important things in life. This is where i am going to stay.

    • arbera.o says:

      I find sinead horgan’s contribution very interesting, especially in terms of it being possible to analyse difference between a woman/female/feminine and a man/male/masculine approach/attitude/sense to what it is that is required from “a place” in order for that to be conducive to living life happily. A good environment for children is paramount here. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change to see “the ladies of the community,” that sinead speaks of, running the country for a change……those girls would have it shipshape in no time..!

    • Adam says:

      I’m from ‘Culle ‘ Co. Cork.-’ Cuillin Ui Chaoimh’ in the Irish language. It means Holly of the O’ Keeffes. Perhaps yor family might originate from this area?

    • Adam says:

      Sorry, that should read ‘Cullen’

    • cbr says:

      @ 21 sinead horgan — “It looks down upon Upton…”

      Sounds like your favourite place is not far from Utopia..!

    • Richard says:

      Its Richard from Michigan, USA again. Keep your awesome postings coming! Love hearing the little gems of information on your beautiful isle from you guys who actually live there. Like hearing that Gallway gets twice the rain as Dublin. Oh, by the way, I just flew from Michigan to New York City for work at the Auto Show and I’m just a few blocks from Ellis Island off of New York where your Great Grand parents arrived beginning in the 1840′s. Hey, Mine too!. Do you guys realise that the Irish practically built this city? I walk to work here everyday and pass an Irish pub on every block. You guys are so loved here in America! your contributions to America are endless!
      Having never visited Ireland, I just have these images of what I guess certain counties are like. I wonder what southern Ireland is like. Is it warmer? I have this idea that Belfast is perhaps more dangerous with such a history of struggle. So my wonderful Irish cousins, please enlighten me. Let me know where to hang out whenever I get there.
      Oh, yeah, one last thing. When you come to visit America, don’t come to New york like everyone else. Visit Texas, Colorado, Northern California. New Yorks dirty, packed with people. Can’t wait to head back home to Michigan to hug my wife and little ones and my mom -Eileen O’Keefe! Love you guys!

    • JOD says:

      Nice post sinead horgan I agree when the sun is shining here there’s no more beautiful place to be.

    • Doreen McBride says:

      Did you get my piece on Banbridge, The Star of the County Down?

    • charles mcgowan says:

      May I suggest and confirm the maxim/cliche that home is where the heart is – thanks Dorothea. In the past the Irish would wash the blood off the stone floor and get on with life. That is they had no choice , when you had eight children and little money just staying alive was a victory of sorts.The Irish people are now well educated and well chastened by that recent hangover( of speculation )they have a mess to clean up, and their lives to live in a noble, beautiful, magical (good and bad! ) land. Don’t chase the rainbow it leads to Australasia and there is are no shortage of fairy gold to pursue here.Ireland is my favorite place- all of it. See you soon -fate willing.

    • Jim Sheridan says:

      Kilgarvan in Kerry was great,, so was Elphin in Roscommon (where I was born,) and will always like Windy Arbour in south dublin,,

    • Kate Q. says:

      …..Actually, loved Eileen Battersby’s contribution as much or maybe even a little more than John Waters’s

      Essentially, perhaps we are all trying to get back to Eden…

    • Eoin O"Hagan says:

      Hi Edel. My pitch for Scariff, Co.Clare has disappeared from the list. Can you help ?

    • Edel Morgan says:

      Hi Eoin, when did you submit it? I will check it out for you

    • jaygee says:

      Years ago, when I was a lad, I thought the loveliest spot in the world was on top of Carnmoney Hill with the view over Belfast Lough and the smoke of Belfast away to the right. On a sunny sparkling day with the light dancing on the Lough and the ships moving off to places unknown, there was no better way to spend an illicit day out of school.
      Since then I have seen some heart~stopping sights around the world, that haunt the mind, and return more and more vividly at odd moments with the passing years. But I never felt the loss of a place or time as i did when I heard (years after I left her), that my first ship had been sold for scrap and ended up as razor blades. I loved her more than any house I’d ever lived in.
      I think the best place to live is that which we have stored in the heart and mind, that brief moment that stopped the breath and the only sound was the blackbird on Carnmoney Hill

    • Bernadette says:

      I’ve been living in London for 22 years, left during the previous recession, perhaps should have but didn’t return home during the boom years, and finally decided I was longing to go home just after the latest recession kicked off. Anyways, to help with the “deciding” I posted on a chat forum the question “Which is the best city to live in: Dublin, Cork or Galway?” – the three places I was interested in moving to. The response was overwhelmingly Galway. There were about 60 replies in total.
      So, while I’m waiting out a little longer in London, sweetened by having a permament job, will be so interested to get the answer – from Irish folk who’ve live in the home country all the time I’ve been away. I’ll be a like foreigner in my home country when I do get back home, but how sweet it will be to be back.

    • KQ says:

      I love the photograph at the top of Edel’s blog post…………….Eve in Eden……very apt

      (have to say though, I’m not familiar with the expression “jammy”………I don’t think I like it…)

    • Tess says:

      This blog has hit me right in the middle of my quandary. I am wrestling with the thought of moving back to Ireland. So much to consider. Yes,born on the east coast in the Garden of Ireland, I have lived in the Netherlands at beginning of my married life, then back to Ireland, thence to Canada for many years. Widowed, sons in U.S. and Australia with their families. The Canadian winter was becoming a bit too much snow shoveling ! Moved to Oz (Sydney) but after 5 years I feel the pull back to Ireland all over again. Numerous visits there through the years so I know most pro’s and con’s. How sweet is Donegal (bar the perpetual rain) ? No one has mentioned that county with the nicest of people. The big predicament I face, I am well into the last segment of my life and I have to ask – could I accept being so far from my grandchildren ? Could I face the move? It is a huge upheaval with a very high cost. Yet, to be really old here does not sound as reassuring as being really old in Ireland – damp and all………
      The Irish have kind hearts both for their preborn (top marks for the Dail today), their handicapped and their elderly. They may not be attending Church in the numbers as before but they still have kind Christian hearts.

    • luke Whitington says:

      for years i lived near glasson with portlick bay as my window.
      you could spend time watching the white tips of wavelets in the wind
      the slow pilgrimages of clouds, some looking your way
      and the light playing with colours across the bay.
      the seasons would chase each other, fairies across the fields and the beech and poplars billowing their floating gowns of leaves. here you could think. and i did on many things with a scribble or two to make it all half real.

    • Eoin O'Hagan says:

      Hi Edel. Sorry about the delay in responding. It was up on the “Best Place” page in the Clare list initially and it seems to have disappeared off that. But if I go on and do a search on the page for scariff it will come up in the search. Hopefully you can find it and put it back on the main list for Clare !

    • I’m in China at the moment, returning to Dublin shortly – a great city of dreams. I’ve enjoyed reading these comments – full of hope and aspiration. Thanks cousin Richard from Michigan an,d love the poem, Luke.

    • Edel Morgan says:

      Hi Eoin, I’ll check it and get back to you, E

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