Judging begins in Best Place competition
Judging is taking place in The Irish Times offices today for the newspaper’s Best Place to Live in Ireland competition. (Scroll down for videos of the top 5: Ardara, Co Donegal; Killarney, Co Kerry; Cork; Rathmines; and Westport.)
For the Best Place to Live in Ireland competition, The Irish Times invited people to nominate the place they lived in, and explain its appeal. All kinds of habitats were eligible: “a town or city suburb, a village or remote rural spot, a tiny community halfway up a mountain, a street, a road or a housing estate”.
From early April until late May, the competition attracted 563 entries from members of the public across 32 counties.
The five judges are now choosing from a shortlist of: Cork city; Ardara, Co Donegal; Westport, Co Mayo; Killarney, Co Kerry; and Rathmines in Dublin.
To introduce readers to the places and the people who nominated them, we’ve made a video of each one which can be seen below.
The overall winner will be announced on Monday, June 25th. The winning place will receive a location-appropriate plaque or sign noting the accolade.
The judges for this competition are: Dr Maureen Gaffney, adjunct professor of psychology and society at University College Dublin; Paul Keogh, founding partner of Paul Keogh Architects and former president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland; Gerard O’Neill, chairman of Amárach Research and a co-founder of Hireland.ie; Irish Times Environment Editor Frank McDonald; and Irish Times journalist Edel Morgan.
You can read all 563 entries and learn more about the competition here.
May the best place win!
VILLAGE: ARDARA, CO DONEGAL
In choosing Ardara, the judges noted that it “makes the best of what it has and it has a lot for a relatively small place – schools, good shops – and it’s hard to get vacant premises in the village.”
Its many festivals, including the multicultural Melting Pot festival, also played a role. Jenny McHugh, who nominated the village, wrote: “There are few places that can boast such a tight sense of community as Ardara. We have so many events throughout the year, catering for visitors and locals alike and showcasing some top-class music, crafts and family entertainment. The people of Ardara work hard and work together, helping to put our town on the map.”
Runner-up : Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary
LARGE TOWN: KILLARNEY, CO KERRY
In their many nominations, Killarney’s locals were very convincing. The judges chose it as “a real place, not just for tourists”, noting its “mix of scenery such as the lakes, mountains, etc, and the ability to commute. The area also offers a great mix of activities.”
Nominee Amélie Gagné wrote: “After many weeks of travelling, I eventually put my backpack down in Killarney. And little did I know down it was going to stay. Day after day I discovered just a little more about the town. First physically of course . . . the many walks in the National Park and the majestic beauty of the lakes, by Ross Castle in the moonlight. After more than 10 years I know how truly lucky I am to have put my backpack down in this town.”
Runner-up : Greystones, Co Wicklow
Cork was noted as “lively, colourful, compact, welcoming, fun, and with plenty of variety in nightlife and restaurants”.
Rory Copplestone, who nominated the city, described it as “a very welcoming and exciting city . . . Cork is surrounded by many towns and villages, like Kinsale, Cobh and Crosshaven.
“These towns provide great majestic views and stunning scenery either out on the water or on the mainland.
“All these features and qualities help make Cork a beautiful, cultured and vibrant city.”
Runner-up : Waterford
SUBURB: RATHMINES, DUBLIN
Rathmines was chosen for its diverse population, welcoming atmosphere, proximity to the city centre, schools, excellent local facilities and its “real main street”, with a variety of shopping.
Nick Kelly nominated it originally and wrote: “Originally developed to house Victorian clerical workers toiling in the metropolis beyond the canal, Rathmines has long attracted, and catered for, a more diverse population.
“While this has always been a busy, messy place, better known for its late-opening laundromats and early morning walks of shame, Rathmines, like Manhattan, retains its ability to ambush you with beauty.”
Runner-up : Glenbeigh Road Area, Cabra, Dublin
SMALL TOWN: WESTPORT, CO MAYO
Westport was chosen for its sustainable transport initiatives, its access to nature and its sustaining industries. It “has it all, plus employment”, said one judge.
John O’Callaghan, who nominated the town, wrote: “The Westport to Achill line has been reopened as the Great Western Greenway, a fantastic new amenity for cyclists and walkers alike.
“Westport is a dynamic and industrious town, with a variety of successful indigenous and multinational businesses. I love Westport deeply.
“I’m always passionate in extolling its many virtues and no matter where I go I always love to return.”
Runner-up : Skerries, Co Dublin