Derry named as one of best places to live in Ireland

Derry city has been named as one of the Top 20 Best Places to live in Ireland and is in the running for the overall title following the publication of the long list of contenders at the weekend.

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 8:27 am

The city was just one of the 470 locations which were nominated by more than 2,400 people from across the 32 counties for the title of ‘Best Place to Live in Ireland 2021’.

One of three cities selected - the others are Galway and Waterford – it received 93 nominations in total.

The Irish Times ‘Best Place to Live in Ireland’ competition, which is sponsored by Randox Health, began in June when members of the public were invited to nominate their favourite place to live for the award. The Top 5 finalists will be named in mid-September with the overall winner announced on Sat Sept 25th.

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Each nominated location was considered by a panel of judges on specific criteria, including community spirit, local services and amenities, diversity, transport links, vibrancy of the local economy, cost of living, safety and of course the unique X factor.

In the nomination selected by the judges as best representing everything which is great about Derry/Londonderry, Greg Johnston, said the ‘Jewel of the North West’ – one of the most wonderful examples of a walled city anywhere in the world - had risen from the ashes of the Troubles, literally, to become a beacon of culture, local enterprise, music festivals and a dynamic social scene.

He said the people of the city were leading from the front and while she still had a ways to go, she will get there.

“The Best Place to Live doesn’t need to be the prettiest place, it takes much more than that… people, attitudes, determination, inclusiveness. Derry people, Londonderry people are leading the way banishing the demons of the past decades. A feeling of warmth exists among people of all faiths, and while no doubt there are still a few issues we will get there.”

The panel of five judges – which includes Mayo County architect Simon Wall, Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy, Nationwide TV presenter Zainab Boladale and Irish Times journalist Rosita Boland – spent hours reading and debating the entries, before selecting the Top 20. The Irish Times is currently on the road visiting the 20 locations and in a couple of weeks will announce the Top 5 before revealing the overall winner.

The Chair of the Judging Panel, Conor Goodman said the entries from people all over the island showcased the quality-of-life available here.

“While the competition is a celebration of the many great places this country has to offer, it also has a serious mission. We want to highlight good examples of community cohesion and local initiatives, in the face of challenges such as the housing shortage and the public health crisis.”

“In Derry / Londonderry and the other locations named in the Top 20 – our judges saw how pride in, and passion for a place can galvanise a community to action and lead to the forging of a unique and open spirit of creativity and innovation. In each of these locations a strong culture of volunteerism is evident as is a strong interest in sustainability and a desire to create a welcoming environment which caters for people of all ages and backgrounds.”

Other places to be nominated include Killarney, Carrick-on-Shannon, Gorey, Clonakilty, Abbeyleix and Tullamore. Towns predominate in the Top 20 list – with 11 representatives – while there are 4 villages, 2 suburbs and 3 cities. Four counties, Monaghan, Laois, Galway and Dublin have two representatives in the long list.

The most heavily nominated locations were the suburb of Malahide in Co. Dublin with 320 entries and the village of Glaslough in Co. Monaghan – population 450 – with 246 entries.

The countrywide competition last took place almost 10 years ago in 2012 in the midst of the financial crisis. On that occasion Westport was selected as the overall Irish Times Best Place to Live as it met so many criteria and displayed a remarkable community spirit that was evident in its 90-plus voluntary organisations.

The full list of Top 20 Best Places to live in Ireland 2021 includes 4 villages: Abbeyleix and Ballinakill (Co. Laois), Clonbur (Co. Galway) and Glaslough (Co. Monaghan) 3 cities: Derry City, Galway City (Co. Galway) and Waterford City (Co. Waterford) 2 suburbs: Cabra (Dublin 7) and Malahide (Co.Dublin) and 11 towns: Blackrock (Co. Louth), Bray (Co. Wicklow), Carrick-on-Shannon (Co. Leitrim), Celbridge (Co.Kildare), Clonakilty (Co. Cork), Enniskillen (Co. Fermanagh) Gorey (Co. Wexford), Killarney (Co. Kerry), Monaghan (Co. Monaghan) Rostrevor (Co. Down) and Tullamore (Co.Offaly).