Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Fermanagh is the happiest place to live in the UK

Don't worry, be happy: Co Fermanagh has something to smile about
Don't worry, be happy: Co Fermanagh has something to smile about

Fermanagh – famed for its stunning lakelands, hospitable G8 hosting skills and areas of outstanding natural beauty – has topped the happy polls, says the Office of National Statistics.

Northern Ireland is in fact the happiest region with the highest average ratings for life satisfaction and happiness, scoring a very high nine or 10 out of 10 – more than in any other country.

Behind Fermanagh came Newry and Mourne, with Limavady third. Overall, Londonderry has the lowest score for happiness in Northern Ireland.

With the capital ranked highest for anxiety levels, the Belfast Telegraph quizzed the happy locals in Enniskillen to find out the secret weapon behind their cheery smiles.

Businesswoman Joan Foster (62) said it's the people, the surroundings and the water: "We're very laidback here, everybody just seems to take life less seriously," she said.

"With such beautiful surroundings, people are in awe of what's around them. It's so lovey and unspoilt – it just puts everyone in a good mood, in great form.

"I also think perhaps it's the water which has a very calming effect on people." she said.

Declan Love (22), a fifth year medical student at Queen's University Belfast, said despite travelling the world, he's convinced there's something unique about his county and said: "I was sort of surprised at the news but I guess there's just something in the air," he said.

"I'm from Enniskillen myself so you can spend the weekend looking out at the lakes and enjoying your dinner.

"I spent the summer on placement in the idyllic Caribbean, with stunning sea views, yet the medical problems were still the same, people still suffering depression in paradise, in a place that's supposed to be perfect," he said.

"Studying in Belfast means I can go home for the weekend and it's like a mini-break to the countryside.

"But there's definitely less concerns, less worries and a better positive atmosphere."

Claire Wilson (24) from Newtownbutler said: "It's glorious, no place like it."

Sales and marketing manager of Lough Erne Resort, John O'Neill, said the escapism of the picturesque county has the appeal for tourists but the local workforce add a special quality to the service provided.

"We regularly receive positive, encouraging comments about our friendly and approachable staff. Of course following the G8, it gave Fermanagh the opportunity to showcase the beauty and amenities that we have to offer.

"There was the platform to a global stage and of course to the wider domestic market," he said.

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