'Best Place to Live' longlist unveiledThe Irish Times - Monday, June 11, 2012
THE JUDGES of The Irish Times "Best Place to Live in Ireland" competition have released an initial longlist of 25 places which are in the running for the overall award. They include five villages, 10 towns of varying sizes, four regional cities, one rural district and five suburbs or urban villages.
The villages are: Ardara, Co Donegal; Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary; Eyeries, Co Cork; Fourmilehouse, Co Roscommon, and Portballintrae, Co Antrim.
The towns are: Skerries, Co Dublin; Clonakilty, Co Cork; Killarney, Co Kerry; Westport, Co Mayo; Greystones, Co Wicklow; Birr, Co Offaly; Carrick-on- Shannon, Co Leitrim; Abbeyleix, Co Laois, and Athlone, Co Westmeath and Sligo town.
There are five Dublin suburbs: Rathmines, the Glenbeigh Road area in Cabra, Clondalkin, Sandymount and Ranelagh. The four cities are: Cork, Derry, Galway and Waterford.
The Dingle peninsula also features on the list of the final 25.
For the Best Place to Live in Ireland competition, The Irish Times invited people to nominate the place they lived 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 the public, across 32 counties.
The judges 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.
All longlisted places are being visited by a team of researchers before a shortlist is announced on Monday, June 18th. The winner will be announced the following Monday, June 25th.
The winning place will receive a location-appropriate plaque or sign noting the accolade. It will also be profiled in the paper and will be the subject of a short film commissioned by The Irish Times. You can read all 563 entries and learn more about about the competition at irishtimes.com/ bestplace.
'It will be an interesting journey' to best-place shortlist
FRANK McDONALD, Environment Editor
IT WAS not easy for those of us on the jury to select a longlist of semi-finalists to compete for Best Place to Live In Ireland, and it's probably going to be even more difficult to decide an overall winner in the end.
We're talking about places as different as chalk and cheese – urban villages such as Ranelagh or Rathmines versus relatively remote picturesque places like Portballintrae, in north Antrim or the Dingle peninsula in west Kerry.
The 563 entries had already been whittled down to 50 based on the quality of the "pitches" made for each place by those who submitted them. We had to weigh whether having a spectacular scenic location or a village prettified with window boxes and hanging baskets was enough to "make the cut" (it wasn't). There had to be more – a sense of community as well as a sense of place.
Some members of the jury stressed the importance of "sustainability" – such as whether the proverbial corner shop was so far away that residents of a nominated place would have to get into their cars even to buy bread or a carton of milk.
In general, members of the jury felt that there should be a broad range of places chosen for the 25-strong longlist, not just geographically but also in terms of category – cities and towns as well as suburbs or urban villages and rural areas.
We could have argued for hours about the pros and cons, but it came down to a vote, with each jury member ranking his or her favourites in order of choice – and then our votes were counted, as if it was an election using proportional representation.
Needless to say, the places that came out on top in this exercise are not being revealed at this stage; we thought it fair that the 25 places on the list should be released without prejudice to their relative positions in the jury members' rankings.
These places will now be researched further before we meet again to select a shortlist of up to five, each of which will then be visited by members of the jury to see whether it measures up to the pitch made for it and our initial assessment.
It will be an interesting journey, for us and for them.
THE FINAL 25: WHAT THE RESIDENTS SAID