Dún Laoghaire named Europe’s Great Town of 2022

Award presented by Academy of Urbanism at ceremony to recognise the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments across the continent

It was confirmed in London last night that Dún Laoghaire is a ‘great town’. The Great Town 2022 award was presented to Cllr Mary Hanafin, Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, by the Academy of Urbanism.

Trieste, in Italy, won the Great City 2022 award.

Academy of Urbanism awards recognise the best, most enduring or most improved urban environments across the UK, Ireland and continental Europe.

Based in Cambridge, in England, the academy is a politically independent nonprofit whose membership includes individuals and organisations involved in city management and policymaking, academic research and teaching, town planning and urban design, community leadership and urban change-making, arts and cultural development, infrastructure and engineering, property law and management, politics, and media.

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The academy’s assessment team visited Dún Laoghaire earlier this month. They were brought on a walking tour by the council’s chief executive, Frank Curran, and senior staff, along with councillors and representatives of local businesses and Tidy Towns. The tour included the coastal mobility cycle route, Dún Laoghaire Harbour, the DLR Lexicon library, George’s Place social housing, and new plans for Myrtle Square and the Convent Lane public plaza, near the Bloomfield shopping centre.

Topics discussed with the assessment team included the importance of creating a connection between the town and the waterfront, the greening of public spaces, economic development and support for local businesses, “Smart Dún Laoghaire”, heritage and biodiversity plans.

Dún Laoghaire’s nomination for the award referred to its project to connect urban villages, bathing places, walks and parks along the coast, and noted the town’s “highly successful, low-cost and transformative ‘tactical urbanism’ carried out as a ‘temporary measure’ at the beginning of the pandemic”. These included the pedestrianisation of the town’s main street during Covid restrictions.

The academy’s Great Neighbourhood award for 2022 went Govanhill, in Glasgow, with the Great Street prize going to Mill Street, in the Scottish town of Perth, and the Great Place award presented to the Piece Hall in Halifax, in Yorkshire.

Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork won the Great Street award in 2015.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times