IT could be Camelot, but it is Westport. And clearly, as revealed in The Irish Times extensive reportage on The Best Place to Live in Ireland over the weekend, there is more than one King Arthur or Queen Guinevere to extol the special character of this heritage town and tourism haven. One young commentator even remarks that the rain feels different here.
Importantly, while the three-pages of analysis, commentary and photographs, in the Weekend Review section of the newspaper, provides broad brushstrokes on the wonderful volunteering ethos, that is supported by sustainable and sensitive development, fostered by partnerships involving the local authority and businesses, the coverage also aimed to ensure balance by asking some contributors to focus on the disadvantages. The overall sentiment and conclusion of the coverage is summarised in the introduction to the main article: “Westport named by The Irish Times as the Best place to Live in Ireland, isn’t perfect, but it comes close. Its success is a product of careful planning, an innovative approach to voluntary work and a triumph of public spiritedness.”
Speaking to The Mayo News, Martin Keating, the Town Manager, said this latest accolade was particularly important.
He said: “The Irish Times award is the most important and complete award that the town has achieved. It is a recognition that everyone –whether a Covey or a newer resident – has contributed to the uniqueness of the town. Of course, while the other awards are brilliant in their own right, they are more sectoral.”
Mr Keating said he was also delighted that the Department of the Environmental awards scheme had recognised Westport as the Best Kept Large Town in the 32 counties last week. Outgoing Chairman of the Town Council Christy Hyland and Chairman of the Tidy Towns Committee, Frank Dolan travelled to Belfast to collect the award.
PROUD TOWN’S PEOPLE
Longtime newsagent and auctioneer, Don McGreevey said last night that ‘the Irish Times award was the crème de la crème’ for his native town.
“When we win the Tidy Towns award it is a national accolade but this one is European and even worldwide. It outstrips everything Westport has received over the last 20 years,” Mr McGreevey said.
“For example, we have a two-bedroom house on our books for rent in Knockranny and on Saturday alone we received 64 calls about it. This is only the start of the dividends that this award will bring for the town,” he added.
Meanwhile, the co-owner of An Port Mór, chef Frankie Mallon happened to serve Irish Times feature writer, Rosita Boland, and photographer, Dara Mac Dónaill, last week. Afterwards she tweeted: “Any foodies out there. You must visit An Port Mór if you are in Westport, it is my find of the year.”
Great publicity for the restaurant and the town, agrees Frankie.
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