Sligo leads the nominations in Best Place to Holiday competition

There are just a few days left for members of the public to nominate towns, villages, cities and regions for Irish Times Best Place to Holiday competition, irishtimes.com/bestplace

Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 07:00

The fine stone pier is the perfect height for lepping off into the sea, worked by tiny trawlers, and the passing sharks never nip your toes. Much of the land has gone for bungalows that lie dark through the winter, but they burst into new life for family fun come Easter. Every summer brings new dogs to chase their tails around the beach, and new experts to sail their boats in the waters.

And there is land yet to wonder at, from the mighty frown of Horn Head over the stroppy Atlantic, to the Zen mastery of Sessiagh Lough behind the hill, where the lake water can be a lady’s mirror and an impenetrable mystery to fishermen.

Turn off any road at any point and tramp through gorse and heather, past superior black-faced sheep to climb the nursing hills’ that enfold you in memories. Find a place to kiss and a place to cry, and a soft spot where you can let the years drift away, like the arms of the dandelion clock.

The holiday season is so short here that tourism isn’t an industry, it’s a sport for the brave and the visionary. Somebody there will put you up, and someone will sit you down and tell you stories about the funny, unforgettable things that happen in Portnablagh. There isn’t a finer spot in all the world to waste your time.


Gla

slough, Co Monaghan
Monaghan is probably not the first place that springs to mind when thinking of holiday destinations, but it has much to offer, from literary associations to historic battlefields, from fishing, walking, horse riding and golf to round towers and, most of all, it has the locals

– friendly, outgoing people.

My favourite place of all is Glaslough. The warm stones of the village are welcoming, the grounds of Castle Leslie lure you in. Go horse riding there and enjoy nature as you explore the woods and lakes. Be prepared to be surprised by the bluebells in the wood, or the deer skipping across the path into the trees. Go into the Green lake, Glaslough, and let the horses drink and watch out for the swans, then back to the lodge for coffee and scones.

History oozes out of the pores of Monaghan, Clones has its round tower and ancient graveyard, Clontibret has its battle site from the Nine Years’ War and crannogs abound.

Storytelling is popular here. Competition is also important: check out the football or the table quizzes. Nestled to the north of the county is the Bragan hills. Here is an opportunity to go walking across the black bogs and enjoy the scenery. Come to Monaghan, come to play, to relax, to enjoy.