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‘Westport is an example to every town in Ireland’ - Taoiseach

Westport is best – even for Castlebar Taoiseach

Town celebrates national success

Áine Ryan

EVEN Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted it. After all, you don’t need to be a Covey to know that Westport is the ‘Best Place to Live in Ireland’. The Islandeady native admitted it to The Mayo News yesterday. He even repeated the view of the outgoing Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Cllr Christy Hyland who, unsurprisingly, said: “There is nothing else for us to win at this stage.”
The Taoiseach was responding to news that Westport had beaten off serious competition, from four other shortlisted places, to win The Irish Times Best Place to Live in Ireland award.
Speaking exclusively to The Mayo News, after he had officiated at the opening of Westport’s Gaelscoil na Cruaiche, Taoiseach Kenny said:  “This win for Westport is wonderful and well-deserved. It is an example of an outstanding level of cooperation and association of different groups in Westport. Westport is an example to every town in Ireland.”
And, in his inimitable style, Cllr Hyland encapsulated that winning je ne sais quoi: “It is the spirit, the heart and the commitment from all the people.”
“As I have said before, it is the great and unrivalled spirit of volunteerism of the community and the cooperation between the many organisations and businesses that ensures Westport wins one award after another. It is onwards and upwards now for the town,” Cllr Hyland said.
The multi-award-winning town pipped to the post the other shortlisted finalists: Cork city, Rathmines in Dublin, Killarney, County Kerry and the village of Ardara in County Donegal. A total of 563 entries were submitted by members of the public, with nominations received from all 32 counties.
The innovative competition was based on original citations by members of the public about their favoured place. The Westport entry  was submitted by John O’Callaghan, who was born and reared in the town and returns regularly from Ennis, where he has lived for many years, to his part-time home on the Quay hill
Mr O’Callaghan wrote in his citation: “Westport has it all. Lovely people, lots to do, excellent employment, fantastic amenities, gorgeous scenery, a thriving arts and cultural scene, great sports and leisure facilities, a palpable community spirit, a choice of good restaurants, fine schools, a caring social services centre, an active retirement group, flourishing overseas partnerships and more.”
Speaking about Westport, Conor Goodman, Irish Times Features Editor, and Chairman of the judging panel, said: “Westport is a beautiful place, well-kept and pleasant to visit, but those aren’t the reasons it won. The judges chose Westport because it is a community of people working together to make the best of the town’s many advantages. It has industry, it has a sustainable transport network, and in a town of just a few thousand people there are almost 100 voluntary groups and organisations at work.”
“The residents of Westport love where they live, and with good reason. The judges had a tough job in deciding on a single overall winner, there was plenty of debate and due consideration amongst them before making this important decision,” he continued.
The Irish Times announced Westport as the winner yesterday (Monday) in a front-page article. Next weekend, Saturday, June 30, it will feature  a detailed profile of the town, which will include photographs and interviews with local residents. The Irish Times will also host a celebratory party in the town in the coming weeks.

Ring responds
WELCOMING the news, Junior Minister for Tourism, Michael Ring , said “I am delighted with this result and I also want to congratulate Mr John O’Callaghan who nominated Westport’.
“What stands out in Westport is the vibrant community spirit, people working together and putting the town first.  Westport people also have a great welcome to visitors when they come into the town. As somebody who was born and reared in Westport, I am very proud and I want to congratulate everybody involved, all our community groups and voluntary associations who work together to make our town so welcoming,” Mr Ring said.He added: “This win is a great honour for Westport and it will certainly help with tourism for the years ahead.”
Brian Quinn of Fáilte Ireland observed that this latest accolade awarded to the town was ‘especially good for those of us working in tourism’.
“Being officially crowned the best is a wonderful boost for the future growth of our industry. Today the judging panel of the Irish Times announced that ‘Westport is the Best Place to Live in Ireland’, and, while many of us knew it already, it’s great to hear it from the experts. This accolade is a reflection of work done to date by the whole community including the many voluntary organisations and not least by our very able Town Council.”
Mr Quinn praised the nominator, John O’Callaghan, for his ‘lyrical pitch’, which led to the award.
The Chairman of Destination Westport, Darren Madden, echoed Mr Quinn’s sentiments.
“We all know that Westport is the best place to live in Ireland and we are very proud of that. This award is further confirmation that our town is a quality destination.”

MORE www.irishtimes.com/bestplace.

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