A SMALL seaside town in Co. Down has been named as the best place to live in Northern Ireland.
Located 20 miles from Belfast on the northeast coast of the Ards Peninsula, Donaghadee came out top in Northern Ireland in the 2023 Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.
The overall winner throughout the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was Wadhurst, a market town in East Sussex.
'Colourful seaside town'
Praising regional winner Donaghadee, the judges were impressed with its community spirit and idyllic location, while being close enough to Belfast to commute.
"All the joy of living by the sea surrounded by a friendly community is what you get in this colourful seaside town," read the guide.
"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."
With a population of around 8,000, Donaghadee is known for its lighthouse and harbour as well as a 12th century motte, atop which a castle was built in the early 19th century to store gunpowder.
Activities on offer include fishing, birdwatching, walking, cycling and sailing.
With many of Donaghadee's buildings dating back several centuries, the town centre is a conservation area.
It is home to one of Ireland's oldest pubs, Grace Neill's, which opened in 1611.
More recently, the town is mentioned in Johnny Cash's 1961 song, Forty Shades of Green, written during a trip to Ireland two years earlier.
The town, which was visited by the then Prince Charles in 2021, is preparing to represent Northern Ireland in this year's Britain in Bloom competition.
Also impressing the judges in Northern Ireland was the Ormeau area of South Belfast, where 'a good choice of attractive Victorian homes, excellent schools and lovely parks make it a perfect location for family life'.
Meanwhile, the judges praised Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh for its 'wonderfully relaxed pace of life'.
The overall winner, Wadhurst, was described as having 'pretty much everything needed for modern life in miniature'.
Other regional winners included Ruthin (Wales), Dunkeld (Scotland), Crouch End (London) and Liverpool (North West).