Northern Ireland

Locations in Co Down, Belfast and Fermanagh named best places to live in Northern Ireland

Orla Smyth. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Orla Smyth. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A south Belfast business owner says she is not surprised the Ormeau Road has been named as one of the top three places to live in Northern Ireland.

Orla Smyth, who owns Kaffe O in the area, said it was a "no brainer" that the bustling stretch with shops, sports clubs, parks, restaurants and cafes was finally being recognised as one of the best places to live.

Ms Smyth, who was born and raised in the Ormeau Road area, was speaking after Donaghadee in Co Down, the Ormeau Road in Belfast and Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh were named the best places to live in the north in a Sunday Times guide.

Donaghadee topped the list with judges praising the town for its "thriving high street, beautiful seaside location and the lively spirit on display in its regular festivals or community groups such as the cold-water swimmers the Donaghadee Chunky Dunkers".

The judges added: "All the joy of living by the sea surrounded by a friendly community is what you get in this colourful seaside town.

"It has been attracting attention, from viewers of the BBC daytime TV drama Hope Street, but it’s also in demand by commuters from Belfast and beyond who are happy to add a few extra miles to their journey in return for clean seas to swim in, beautiful views and a lively community that comes out in force for the summer and Christmas festivals".

Coming in second on the list was the Ormeau Road.

The judging panel said: "Like the city itself, Belfast’s best suburb is bursting with hospitality.

"The Upper Ormeau Road is now lined with an extraordinary selection of top-notch restaurants and coffee shops, but its traditional pubs are still going strong, too.

"A good choice of attractive Victorian homes, excellent schools and lovely parks make it a perfect location for family life, with all the fun of downtown Belfast within easy walking distance".

In relation to Enniskillen, the judges said: "Access to the wild and wonderful watery playground of Lough Erne is what puts this handsome historic town ahead of the crowd.

"It’s not its only advantage. It also has a lively, independent town centre with a good mix of practical and interesting shops, as well as a choice of good golf courses and a wonderfully relaxed pace of life".

The three locations in Northern Ireland featured in the guide among 72 places in total.

Orla Smyth, who owns six Kaffee O locations, said the Ormeau Road is the "best place".

"It has changed a lot, she said.

"I have always loved the electic mix on the Ormeau Road and there's a very strong community.

"There's also a couple of strong local football clubs. You are so close to the city centre, close to the university and two of the most beautiful parks. You can walk into town in 15 minutes. If you have kids, there's good schools in the area.

"It's a no brainer".