Westport celebrates after 'Irish Times' honour


ONE ECSTATIC “Covey” local said winning the Irish Times award for the nicest place to live added “a further diamond in Westport’s already sparkling crown”.

Joy was palpable on the bustling streets of the tourist favourite, which won the national Tidy Towns award in 2006, after news came through that it had now been named by The Irish Times as the nicest place to live in Ireland.

“This is a brilliant achievement, unexpected but certainly welcome,” declared shoe-shop owner Michael O’Donnell as he fetched down a pair of sandals for a Danish visitor.

Like many others in the seaside town, which was described by the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray in 1842 as having “the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world”, Mr O’Donnell thinks the award represents a boost for industry as well as tourism.

“Executives from the largest companies in the world will want to base themselves here because of the scenery, the cleanliness and community spirit which contribute to a fantastic quality of life,” he said.

The point that industry in Westport will further benefit from the “best place in Ireland to live” tag was echoed by the Mayo county manager Peter Hynes.

“The quality of life in Westport and in Co Mayo generally gives us a competitive advantage,” he said. “Industrialists want to come here.

“I would like to compliment the local Tidy Towns committee, the town council and the many organisations that contribute to making life in Westport so good.”

The Irish Times sold out early in Westport yesterday on foot of the good-news story.

Local TD and Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Michael Ring, said: “Everybody works together for the benefit of the town. They pull together.”

The celebration of Westport’s good news has even gone international.

Marilyn Dearden, who is back in Rochdale, England, having enjoyed “a wonderful week” with her mother, Irene, and sister, Jackie, in Westport, posted a comment on local boards last night saying that the people of the town were to be congratulated for their part in achieving the latest honour.

“Everybody is so friendly, the service is excellent, and the streets of the town are so clean you could eat your dinner off them,” said Ms Dearden, who plans to return in September for a second holiday.