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The 20 Worst Places to Live in Ireland

Longford

Ireland is a gorgeous country with rolling green hills, a breathtaking coastline, and history for days. It's got great culture, great people, and, of course, great Guinness. But nowhere is perfect, and the worst towns in Ireland are definitely the kind of places you want to avoid when visiting the area.

For all its attractions, Ireland is also a place of high living costs, widespread unemployment, and a growing problem with drugs and organized crime. If you want to experience the best of the Emerald Isle without the flipside, do whatever you can to avoid these 20 worst places to live in Ireland.

These are easily the worst places to live in Ireland for the same kind of reasons you'd expect for any city. There may be a high crime level, problems with employment, or issues with education. The absolute worst places in Ireland often have a unique combination of all that and more. Goodness!

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The 20 Worst Towns in Ireland 

When examining the 20 worst places to live in Ireland, we want to note that there are positives about these areas. After all, no city is completely without merit or value, and even these villages, towns, and cities may have something interesting to do or see. That said, we want to encourage you to avoid them as much as possible if you have young children or if you're worried about potential crime issues.

20. Castleisland

Castleisland's main claim to fame is the width of its main street, which is so substantial that local journalist Con Houlihan has been promoted to describe Castleisland as "not so much a town as a street between two fields.” That might sound kind of funny but just think about that for a minute.

The only thing that’s worth noting about this city is its giant street. That pretty much sums things up. There are fields, and there's a street...and that's it. If you want job prospects, a lively social life, and something to do with your time, this isn't the place for you. It’s a pretty rough place to live.

Shockingly, crime is also pretty common in this small city, which makes it an even worse place to live. The fact that there are worse towns in Ireland on this list should tell you something; there are more than a few concerning things about this otherwise beautiful country.

19. Castleblayney

Castleblayney is a small town in County Monaghan with a population of around 3,600. It's got a nice location on the western shore of the county's largest lake, Lough Muckno, but that's about the first and last good thing you can say about it. It’s not necessarily terrible per se, but it isn’t great.

Unemployment is rife, the poverty level is high, and there's precious little to do apart from dreaming of escaping. Unless you like your hometown to be rather miserable and gloomy, it's best to steer clear of Castleblayney, especially if you want to avoid crime. 

While it’s not among the worst towns in Ireland for crime, there have been some wild issues in the area. Murders are far more common in this area than you’d expect, as are gang crimes and other types of issues that seem like they’d skip a tiny town like Castleblayney.

18. Lifford

Lifford is a small town of less than 2,000 in County Donegal. It's not an inherently bad place – there's a pretty town center, several community organizations and clubs, a few historical monuments, a heritage center, and a couple of nice restaurants. In fact, it can be a pretty cozy place to visit at the right time.

The problem is that, as with many small border towns, any money that was floating around in the early 2000s disappeared during the post-2008 Irish economic downturn and hasn't been since. Crimes have become more problematic and seem to only worsen every year in this city.

Unless the government turns the focus of national development onto small, rural areas, the situation for communities like Lifford is unlikely to improve any time soon. That’s a shame because we honestly think Lifford could be a cute place to live with the right investment.

17. Cross Roads

Like many border towns, Cross Roads was badly hit by the recession and has never really recovered. Unemployment is rife (the proportion of households where no one is earning is 1 in 3 compared to the national average of 1 in 5), while the government's lack of focus on rural areas isn't helping matters. 

Understandably, the general vibes the town is giving off aren't exactly cheerful. It’s a shame because the town was rather cute and relaxing at one point but hasn’t really improved. Even worse, it’s home to a pretty wide array of crimes and weird legal situations that make it a rather odd place to live.

16. Abbeyfeale

Abbeyfeale is a small historical market town in County Limerick. It's not a terrible place to live by any means – the problem is, it's not a great place either. It’s quite mediocre, especially in terms of the unemployment rate, community involvement, and education levels. Here, it scores pretty dismally.

The real problem with this town is that there's really very little to do here: apart from wandering around the shops (which should take all of 10 minutes) and enjoying a Guinness at one of the local pubs, the opportunities for recreation are almost nonexistent. That can lead to some pretty weird situations.

For example, a rash of wild infighting occurred among firefighters in the area that ended up affecting the whole community. There have also been strange criminal activities in the region that tend to pop up out of nowhere and cause serious safety issues that are worth avoiding.

15. Letterkenny

It may be known as the Emerald Isle, but not all parts of Ireland have as much green as others. While larger urban areas have largely recovered from the recession, certain cities, particularly those in more rural areas, are still struggling to move forward. Letterkenny in Donegal is one of them. 

The city is one of the most disadvantaged in the country, with high unemployment and equally high poverty. Sure, the city is pretty beautiful, and there are plenty of gorgeous areas in the region, but it’s in pretty dire straits. Crime is particularly common throughout this area, unfortunately.

The COVID pandemic hasn't exactly helped the situation either. As donegaldaily.com reports, many families have been so badly affected by the economic turmoil resulting from the crisis they've been unable to afford even the most basic essentials. That’s a real problem that’s not likely to improve soon.

14. Enniscorthy

Violent crime is mercifully rare in Ireland, but it's not unheard of, especially if you happen to live in Enniscorthy. Along with the occasional stabbing or assault, the town is also at the center of a growing drug problem that's seen a corresponding increase in the number of property crimes. 

On the plus side, there's a railway station that will be very happy to whisk you away to somewhere better. It’s also a beautiful place, as are many towns in Ireland. That said, if you’re worried about your pocketbook getting stolen while you’re visiting a city, it’s not worth all the beauty in the world.

13. New Ross

New Ross is a slightly bleak, slightly depressing city of 8,040 people with an industrial vibe and not a whole lot going on. It's a little bit gray, a little bit grim, and very much not the kind of place you'd want to spend much time visiting. It’s easily one of the worst places to live in Ireland. 

On the plus side, the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is said to offer an incredible insight into the hows and whys of the potato famine. Even if that’s exciting and interesting, there are many crimes and other issues throughout the area that can seriously impact your safety here.

12. Waterford

"From its vibrant city life to its rural charm and stunning coastline, Waterford city and county have something for everyone!" So says their official website, which tries to do a big job of promoting this unique little city and making it sound like the kind of place you’d like to live. 

We're not inclined to disbelieve them, but we want to add that "everyone" includes criminals, of whom Waterford City has more than its fair share. Violent and property crimes are particularly common here, though it’s been reported that the city has also seen a decrease in some crimes in recent years

The city might be Ireland's oldest, but it has a very 21st-century problem: namely, an escalating drug problem that's given rise to one of the worst crime rates in the country. It's still beautiful and a comfortable place to visit, but let’s be honest: not all that glitters is gold and worth experiencing.

11. Cork

As anyone who's ever visited Cork will tell you, it's a beautiful place. Quaint, charming, and blessed with stunning scenery, it offers the quintessential Irish experience to the armies of tourists who descend on it each year. In the right frame of mind, Cork can be an amazing place to visit.

The problem? It's a big city – the second biggest in Ireland, in fact. As you might expect, big cities come with big problems. In fairness, nowhere in Ireland is particularly dangerous – not dangerous in the way of the Londons and the Los Angeles' and the Tijuanas of the world, in any case.

But crime rates are relative, and by Irish standards, the crime rate in Cork is no laughing matter. According to reports, arson is one of the biggest problems, with 2824 incidents recorded since 2003 alone. It seems like each year just gets worse in Cork, so make sure you’re prepared for that issue.

It’s a bit like any big city that you’ll likely visit in your life: safe and dangerous areas exist. It’s important to talk with your travel agent about these potential dangers to ensure that you don’t run into any serious problems and to keep yourself safe from long-term problems.

10. Galway

Galway regularly ranks as one of the best places to visit in Ireland. With its picture-perfect streets, its idyllic surroundings, and its vibrant culture, it's a great place to spend a long weekend. But visiting a place isn't quite the same as living in it, and there are some real issues with this city. 

So, while Galway unquestionably has its charms, it also has quite a lot of something else: crime. According to irishmirror.ie, Galway recorded more criminal incidents than any other Irish city outside of Dublin between 2003 and 2019. That’s shocking, considering that the city isn’t all that huge.

If you can turn a blind eye to the crime, you'll probably have a great time living there. If you can't, it's best avoided. That’s particularly true since some of its wildest and most dangerous crimes are among the worst in Ireland. That makes it one of the worst towns in Ireland if you want to settle down.

9. Dublin

Dublin is by no means the worst place in Ireland to live – hence its inclusion at number 9 on our list instead of the very top. There are some stunning parts to it, with great restaurants, amazing bars, and more attractions than you can shake a stick at that make it a great place to visit. 

It's also got a fabulous culture, excellent job opportunities, and a richness and history you can't help but love. But it's also got an insanely high cost of living, substantial poverty, and the worst crime rate.

That isn't necessarily unexpected - it is the capital, after all – but it's also not easy to ignore. There are so many dangerous areas in Dublin that you need to avoid here. Some even say that “nowhere is safe to live in Dublin,” which makes the worst towns in Ireland very troubling as a home.

8. Larne

Voted as the worst town in Ireland by collegetimes.comLarne is a major port on the east coast of County Antrim. In fairness, it's not completely devoid of attractions - the promenade is very picturesque, and there are a couple of not entirely unpretty sandy beaches nearby. 

But other than that, the only thing you'll really come to love about the town is the road out of there. Murders happen here more than you’d expect, as well as various assaults and disturbances. The city is also pretty economically depressed, which can make it pretty hard to enjoy this area.

7. Rathnew

Rathnew isn't all bad. For a start, it's got the historic Tinakilly House, the former home of Capt. Robert Halpin, which these days serves as a very nice hotel with some great views over the Irish Sea. There's also a grand total of three pubs, three fish and chip shops, and even a petrol station. 

And then... nothing. Really, the best you can say is that there's a bus that will take you out of there. It’s particularly important to flee the city because things like assaultchild abuse, and even drug problems are rampant in what seems like a rather cozy and comfortable city. Wild! Avoid this city.

6. Tipperary

Backdropped by rich, fertile hills, home to the legendary Tipperary Racecourse, and made famous by the wartime song "It's a long way to Tipperary," Tipperary seems a great place to live. For some people, it might be a cozy place to live. It’s a cozy and low-key place that might work for many people.

But for those who value job opportunities (there aren't many), decent amenities (if you're after something more than a pub or a betting shop, you're out of luck), and prosperity (refer back to the job opportunities) make it a pretty upsetting place to live if you want to stay here. 

Beyond that, there are issues with safety (the crime isn't terrible, but woe betide the motorist who leaves their car unlocked for more than a few minutes) and a way out of there (there's a bus station, but buses rarely bother to stop there) that you can jump into to get away from this city.

5. Limerick

On the surface, Limerick is a fascinating, beautiful city studded with medieval castles and churches, lively pubs and restaurants, and things to do and see. But scratch beneath the surface, and things suddenly get a lot less attractive, and it becomes one of the worst towns in Ireland.

Gang violence isn't something most people associate with Ireland, but in Limerick, it's alive and well. In the early 2000s, it even earned the dubious nickname of Stab City in recognition of the growing problem. It’s something that you need to take seriously if you want to live here.

While the explanation for the city's problems is complex and varied, much of it is down to the deprivation, endemic unemployment, and poverty experienced on the housing estates, as well as the skyrocketing drug trade. Clearly, it’s among the worst places to live in Ireland by quite a lot.

4. Clonmel

Clonmel is a pretty little town with a serious problem. Over the past few years, drugs have ripped the community apart. In January alone, €256,000 worth of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, MDMA, alprazolam, cannabis, and diazepam were seized from dealers in the town.

As the Irish Times reports, so bad has the situation become the community policing unit has been temporarily dissolved to concentrate resources on the sale and supply of drugs. Speaking to Tipp FM’s mid-morning current affairs program, Tipp Today, Superintendent William Leahy confirmed this issue.

He stated: “We have a serious drugs issue in Clonmel, and many’s the time, throughout the last year two years, I’ve gone to sudden deaths of people who overdosed from drugs, deaths of people who took their own lives because of drugs." 

As the drug problem has escalated, so has other criminal activity throughout the city. All in all, it's best to avoid this city and to find a more relaxing and comfortable place to live in Ireland. It’s particularly important to avoid areas like these when going on tourist trips.

3. Bunclody

Back in 2014, Bunclody was voted the most economically depressed town in Ireland. It had the worst unemployment rate, the lowest inward migration figures, the most empty houses, and one of the worst educational standards. Poverty is a general problem in Ireland but particularly heavy in this town.

Ten years later, the situation is no prettier. It's still economically depressed, still depressing to visit and live here, and still the kind of place you'd rather avoid if you had the choice. Unfortunately, the city has heavy crime waves that have made it a more dangerous and scary place to visit.

That’s all we have to say in Bunclody. It’s not even a particularly pretty place to visit because most of the buildings are pretty worn down, and the city itself has a grimy, broken-down feel. We strongly suggest that you run, don’t walk away from Bunclody to stay safe.

2. Carrick-on-Suir

Carrick-on-Suir hasn't been having a good time in the press recently. For a start, its local hospital has just closed, leading to a wave of protests and several very unflattering news reports about the state of the town's amenities. It’s led to many health issues impacting the residents in heavy ways.

There's the growing drug problem, which sparked huge alarm in the community after a couple of young men were filmed shooting up outside the town hall. Heavy crimes like these have quickly made Carrick-on-Suir one of the worst towns in Ireland for raising a family. 

When you factor in the escalating unemployment, the low incomes, and the high living costs, it's understandable why towns-ireland.com ranks it as one of the worst places to live in Ireland. Is there anything good about living here? Well, it’s possible to relocate without staying here too long!

1. Longford

According to The Irish Sun, Longford isn't a great place to live if you value personal happiness. Based on this publication, Longford ranks as the worst place in the country for positive attitudes about life potential, feeling empowered to bring about change, and feeling safe and happy. 

If those kinds of things mean anything to you, do what you can to avoid it. What causes these low feelings? How about severe crime rates that include excessive violencedrugs, prostitution, and extortion? That’s just one reason why so many people want to avoid Longford.

Here’s another reason: Longford is one of the most economically deprived cities in the nation. Studies find that Longford residents have less disposable income than other people in Ireland, which reinforces the fact that this isn’t the kind of place you want to live or even visit for very long.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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