Travel & Roots

Why Ireland’s 6 Cities Are Among the Most Welcoming in the World

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Meet Ireland’s Six Super-Friendly Cities

Discover the legendary charm & hospitality that make Irish cities so popular for millions of guests.

  • 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

Dublin City Montage.png

40% of Ireland’s population call Dublin City and its sprawling suburbs home making it an Irish megacity.

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Dublin Fringe Festival and Dublin International Film Festival

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 City Montage.png

Cork is Ireland’s largest county by area with 7% of the population living in its city and booming suburbs.

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Cork Jazz Festival and Cork Film Festival

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

Galway City Montage.png

Galwegians are renowned for their hospitality helping this charming city become the world’s friendliest place!

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Galway International Oyster Festival and Galway Arts Festival

Quirky Fact: The famous Claddagh ring representing love, loyalty and friendship comes from Galway.

(IV) Waterford: Ireland’s Oldest City

Waterford City Montage.png

Founded in 914 A.D. by marauding Viking raiders, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and 5th most populous.

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Spraoi Festival and The Waterford Winterval Festival

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 City Montage.png

Limerick lies on Ireland’s longest river (the River Shannon) with the historic core of the city located on King's Island.

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Riverfest and The Richard Harris International Film Festival

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 City Montage.png

Kilkenny is Ireland’s smallest city situated on the banks of the River Nore and home of the renowned Kilkenny Castle.

Fact File


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

Festival Highlights: The Cat Laughs Festival and The Kilkenny Arts Festival

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!

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