Rustic charm and medieval charisma galore give Ireland’s cities a unique edge
Close-knit communities and traditional trades make big cities friendly and fun
Annual festivals light up town squares bringing craic and ceol to bustling streets
Meet Ireland’s Six Super-Friendly Cities
It’s official — Ireland has secured three of the top five places on the leaderboard celebrating the world’s friendliest cities. Travel + Leisure Magazine ranked Galway as the world’s friendliest city just ahead of Charleston, South Carolina, with Dublin and Cork claiming third and fourth places respectively. Incidentally, a similar list has been compiled focusing on America’s friendliest cities.
The Irish have been rapidly emulating the global trend toward exponential urbanization for some time now. The upshot is that approximately 66% of citizens now reside in Ireland’s urban centers meaning that two out of three Irish people live on just 2.4% of the total land available!
The Republic of Ireland has seen modest population growth over the last 20 years with some 4.6 million people now calling it home. An overwhelming majority of these people live in its six neighborly cities so isn’t it about time you got to know Ireland’s six mini-metropolises?
(I) Dublin: The Big Smoke
40% of Ireland’s population call Dublin City and its sprawling suburbs home making it an Irish megacity.
Gaelic Name: Baile Átha Cliath (Town of the Hurdled Ford)
Founded: 1169 A.D.
Main River: River Liffey
Population: 527, 612
Citizens: Dubliners or Dubs
Famous Dubliners: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Colin Farrell
Quirky Fact: Dublin is reputedly the home of Ireland’s oldest pub. The Brazen Head has been pouring liquid sunshine since 1198!
(II) Cork: Ireland’s Rebel City
Cork is Ireland’s largest county by area with 7% of the population living in its city and booming suburbs.
Gaelic Name: Corcaigh (Marsh)
Founded: 1185 A.D.
Main River: River Lee
Population: 119, 230
Citizens: Corkonians or Leesiders
Famous Corkonians: Michael Collins, Roy Keane, Graham Norton and Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Quirky Fact: Cork’s harbor is said to be the second largest natural harbor in the world behind Sydney Harbor in Australia.
(III) Galway: The World’s Friendliest City
Galwegians are renowned for their hospitality helping this charming city become the world’s friendliest place!
Gaelic Name: Gaillimh (Stony River)
Founded: 1484 A.D.
Main River: River Corrib
Population: 75, 530
Citizens: Galwegians or Tribesmen
Famous Galwegians: Michael D. Higgins, Peter O’Toole, The Stunning and Eamon Casey
Quirky Fact: The famous Claddagh ring representing love, loyalty and friendship comes from Galway.
(IV) Waterford: Ireland’s Oldest City
Founded in 914 A.D. by marauding Viking raiders, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and 5th most populous.
Gaelic Name: Port Láirge (Lárag's Port)
Founded: 914 A.D.
Main River: River Suir
Population: 46, 732
Citizens: Waterfordians or Déisemen
Famous Waterfordians: John Condon, Thomas F. Meagher, Keith Barry and Gilbert O’Sullivan
Quirky Fact: The English name for Waterford is derived from Veðrafjǫrðrt — the Old Norse name given to the City by its marauding Viking founders.
(V) Limerick: City on the Shannon
Limerick lies on Ireland’s longest river (the River Shannon) with the historic core of the city located on King's Island.
Gaelic Name: Luimneach (Loch Luimnigh)
Founded: 812 A.D.
Main River: River Shannon
Population: 95, 854
Citizens: Limerickmen or Shannonsiders
Famous Shannonsiders: Frank McCourt, The Cranberries, J. P.McManus and Richard Harris
Quirky Fact: Following the installation of a new network of water pipes in 1892, Limerick residents discovered eels were hitching a ride and making their way into homes and businesses!
(VI) Kilkenny: Home of the Castle
Kilkenny is Ireland’s smallest city situated on the banks of the River Nore and home of the renowned Kilkenny Castle.
Gaelic Name: Cill Chainnigh (Church of Cainnech)
Founded: 1609 A.D.
Main River: River Nore
Population: 24, 423
Citizens: Noresiders or Cats
Famous Cats: D.J. Carey, John Locke, Ronan Tynan and Robert Barber
Quirky Fact: Kilkenny people are often referred to as ‘The Cats’ — a nickname stemming from the feral felines that once roamed its caves in Dunmore.
So, there you have it: Ireland’s top six friendly urban getaways. Now vote for your #1 friendliest Irish city by stamping your seal of approval in our poll below!