Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021: ‘Gorgeous’ Co Monaghan village leads the nominations

Amid the 373 entries so far, just three counties (Armagh, Fermanagh, Laois) don't feature yet

A village in Co Monaghan is leading nominations for the Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021 competition, three weeks after its launch. Forty-one people have nominated the village of Glaslough for the accolade.

“It’s a beautiful picturesque village meticulously maintained with a wonderful community spirit and fabulous welcome,” writes Sorcha McPhillips, one of those who submitted an entry for the village. “It’s set in gorgeous rural surroundings yet boasts fantastic facilities including country pubs, fab restaurant, spa, and artisan chocolatier and gelateria.”

Glaslough, situated in the north of the county, has a population of 453. It won a Tidy Towns award in 2019. Perhaps its best known feature is Castle Leslie, the luxury hotel that was the venue for the wedding of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in 2002.

“Bohemian atmosphere in a beautiful setting. Great amenities and lovely friendly people,” writes John McCarville in his pitch.


“I don’t live there but sometimes I do wee jobs there,” writes Francis Neeson. “The people are friendly and it a lovely place.”

The Irish Times launched its search for the Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021 on June 12th, and invited people around the country to nominate their favourites. The nominated places will be researched and put before a panel of judges, who will choose an eventual winner in September.

There have been 373 entries so far for the 32-county competition, with only three counties – Armagh, Fermanagh and Laois – unrepresented as yet. The highest number of nominations comes from Co Dublin, with 54, followed by Monaghan at 44 and Cork at 42.

The county-by-county breakdown of nominations is as follows:

Antrim 5
Armagh 0
Carlow 2
Cavan 4
Clare 13
Cork 42
Derry 3
Donegal 21
Down 5
Dublin 54
Fermanagh 0
Galway 25
Kerry 29
Kildare 10
Kilkenny 3
Laois 0
Leitrim 1
Limerick 6
Longford 1
Louth 5
Mayo 27
Meath 2
Monaghan 44
Offaly 7
Roscommon 1
Sligo 5
Tipperary 4
Tyrone 1
Waterford 21
Westmeath 4
Wexford 10
Wicklow 18

The Irish Times ran the original Best Place to Live contest in 2012, when Westport, Co Mayo, was selected as the overall winner. It won for its beautiful natural and built environment, sustainable transport and employment opportunities, but most noteworthy was its indomitable community spirit - exemplified in the town’s 90-plus voluntary organisations.

This year's competition is supported by Randox Health. To enter, simply go to where you will be invited to write a short "pitch" of 300 words or less for the place you think is the best in Ireland. All instructions are on the website.


What’s a “place”? You decide: it could be a town, village, city, suburb, island, or other distinct community - such as a peninsula, valley, townland or even a county.

Each place will be judged on criteria including: natural amenities; buildings; community initiatives and spirit; presence of clubs, societies and activities; good local services; diversity; a welcome for outsiders; transport links; employment opportunities; local economy; the price of property and housing supply; cost of living; digital links for distance working; safety and security . . . and the X factor.

The judges

Judges are chosen for their expertise in a variety of disciplines. The 2021 panel, chaired by Irish Times journalist Conor Goodman, is:

Simon Wall
Now Mayo county architect, he was a key person behind Westport's success in 2012.

Dr Illona Duffy
Based in Monaghan, she is a general practitioner and public health commentator.

Rosita Boland
An Irish Times journalist, she is also the author of A Secret Map of Ireland.

Zainab Boladale
Her job as presenter of RTÉ's Nationwide programme has taken her far and wide around Ireland.

The winner

Every stage of the contest – launch, reader nominations, process, longlist, shortlist and winner – will be documented in detail throughout the competition, in The Irish Times and on so watch this space. The closing date is July 25th. The winner will be announced in September.