Dungannon described as ‘squat, ugly and claustrophobic’

The new look Market Square in Dungannon.INTT0415-357

The new look Market Square in Dungannon.INTT0415-357

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Dungannon has come in for some severe, and some might argue unfair, criticism after news broke that the district of Fermanagh and Omagh is the happiest in the UK.

Not even situated in the council area Guardian journalist Zoe Williams was sent investigate, she described the town as one of the ugliest she had ever seen in her subsequent article.

Dungannon park

Dungannon park

“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,” she said after some interesting interaction with local people.

Aside from Brian, who wouldn’t have his picture taken as his ex-wife thinks he’s dead, this reporter was particularly tickled by baker, Sean Hegarty’s line of questioning.

“Have you come all the way from England to ask me that?” He was said to have asked her.

Although, we have to concede to her observations about the number of casinos in town and the fact her comments were not all bad.

“The sun had come out and it had started to look more charming, less like a film set where something bad is about to happen,” she added.

“There are probably more casinos than you’d want for an index of human contentment, but it hasn’t given into that charity shop/Greggs/charity shop cycle that spells the end of commerce.”

Zoe however, didn’t get away completely unscathed with many of the 191 comments posted next to her article, defending the attitudes, happy nature and manners of Northern Irish people - even if she was a lot more complimentary about the “more affluent” Cookstown with its “wide, audacious boulevard, at the end of which is an ostentatious view of the gorgeous, green and heathery Sperrin mountains”.

One defended Dungannon, saying it is more pleasant than a long list of English towns, while another pointed to the love of baked goods as one source of inherent happiness in the area.

A former resident simply said: “Dungannon, though much remodelled by the troubles, isn’t very attractive as a town.

“But the people are, and that’s what really counts.”