Omagh and Enniskillen the happiest places in the UK, says the Office of National Statistics

A jolly piece by Zoe Williams in the Guardian which does not quite fathom the reasons but manages to avoid condescension – just about.

The residents of the district of Fermanagh and Omagh are the happiest in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. This comes as no surprise to any of them. It’s a large area with three civic hubs – Enniskillen, Omagh and Dungannon – each of which claims to be happier than the other two.

Enniskillen people are known to congratulate one another on the weather even when it’s raining. Omagh residents are enamoured of its beauty. And Dungannon, with its squat, claustrophobic high street under smoke-grey clouds, easily the ugliest town I’ve ever seen, simply fosters joy. I don’t know how.

“We’re brilliant,” said Jackie, who declined to give her age. “Why would you not be happy?” her companion Nigel asked, baffled. Donna Close, 47, generalised: “I think Northern Irish people in general are quite optimistic. We’ve survived. We’ve had our troubles but hopefully we’re coming out of them.”

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London