The Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021: Our new competition and how to enter it

The Irish Times is searching once again for the Best Place to Live in Ireland

Residents of Westport talk about how winning the Best Place to Live in Ireland competition in 2012 impacted the town. Plus, they have advice for applicants hoping to win in 2021.


The Irish Times is searching for the Best Place to Live in Ireland, and would like you to nominate your favourite. You can do so here. Read on to find out more about it

In early 2012 – with Ireland’s then financial crisis biting hard – The Irish Times decided to brighten up the nation a little, with a countrywide competition called the Best Place to Live in Ireland. The 32-county competition discovered some great places, explored what made them work, and rewarded the communities that had created them.

The eventual winner, Westport, Co Mayo, was selected for several reasons. It has a beautiful natural and built environment, sustainable transport, employment opportunities for its young, but most noteworthy was its indomitable community spirit – exemplified in the town’s 90-plus voluntary organisations.

Today, as the country emerges from another challenging period, we are embarking on the same search: for the Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021, in association with Randox Health.

The Best Place To Live In Ireland

Nominate Your Place

Once again, we are asking readers to nominate the place where they love to live. Once again, a panel of judges and researchers will scour Ireland for its hidden gems and known paradises.

The only place that cannot win is Westport, which still holds its original title. This year, however, we want to recognise another great Irish location. Westport, which still has much to teach us, will be represented on the judging panel.

How do you enter?

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.

Best Place to Live judges: Simon Wall and Zainab Boladale (top row), and Dr Illona Duffy and Rosita Boland
Best Place to Live judges: Simon Wall and Zainab Boladale (top row), and Dr Illona Duffy and Rosita Boland

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 winner will be announced in September.

To nominate, click here