Judges choose the 25 best places to holiday in Ireland

The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition attracts more than 1,400 nominations

Mon, Apr 29, 2013, 06:00

The judges of The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition have selected an initial longlist of 25 locations. They include tourist-friendly towns and cities, remote beauty spots, inland and coastal locations. Some are suitable for two week-holidays, others for short breaks.

Four islands (Achill, Inis Meain, Inishbofin and Valentia), two quiet west-Cork locations (the Beara Peninsula and Gougane Barra lake) and Kerry’s famous tourist towns of Killarney and Dingle have been longlisted.

The Irish beach holiday is represented by Carherdaniel and Derrynane, Co Kerry; Dunmore East, Co Waterford; Gweedore, Co Donegal; Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford; and Strandhill, Co Sligo. The cities of Cork, Dublin and Derry also feature.

North of the Border, Cushendall, Co Antrim, and the Fermanagh lakelands featured. The judges selected three inland destinations – the Shannon River, the Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary, and Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Researchers will now visit these locations before the judges narrow the search down further. A shortlist will be announced on May 20th, and the overall winner on May 27th.

For the competition – which has been running since early March – members of the public were invited to nominate the places they love to holiday. There were more than 1,400 entries from every county in Ireland.

Judge Steve McPhilemy, a tour guide and hostel owner in Derry, said he had been cheered by the quality of entries for some of the less-celebrated midlands destinations, such as the Glen of Aherlow in Co Tipperary, “but the old stalwart locations like Kinsale and Dingle showed they still have it too”.

Irish Times journalist Rosita Boland, author of A Secret Map of Ireland, said of the judging: the hardest thing for me as a judge was teasing out what ‘holiday’ means. It means different things for the readers who sent us pitches, usually to do with the length of time spent in a place.”

Another of the judges, Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party and a former tourism entrepreneur, was impressed by the entries submitted by the public. “I liked that the entries were very personal. People communicated that attraction or love they felt for a place; they weren’t corporate and didn’t smack of advertising.”

“Being honest, I found the judging process difficult,” said Ryan. “You can’t help letting your personal experience of a place colour your assessment. And the process is going to get worse as we try to narrow it down. It’s shouldn’t be a beauty contest, but it is.”


THE LONGLIST (In alphabetical order)

ACHILL ISLAND, CO MAYO
Nominated by Elizabeth Hickey, who wrote: “At the end of my first Irish summer holiday in 15 years I was surprised that the days had been filled with activities. In Ireland you have to make your own fun … Achill offers the opportunity to do this no matter what the weather.”
Read the full pitch at http://iti.ms/YYxiwL

BALLYVAUGHAN, CO CLARE
Nominated by Orla McEvoy, who wrote: “A beautiful coastal village with a personality all of its own. Spectacular views around every bend, wonderful west of Ireland atmosphere in the pub, and the Burren is one of the most stunning limestone settings on earth.”
Read the full pitch at http://iti.ms/YYxtbf

BEARA PENINSULA, CO CORK
Nominated by Siobhan O’Connor, who wrote: “The physical beauty is overwhelming. The people are unique. It is a gem we should treasure. It is my heritage.”
Read the full pitch at http://iti.ms/181aTFO

BOYLE, CO ROSCOMMON
Nominated by Mervyn Boles, who wrote: “This town is steeped in history and unspoilt, with friendly, independent shops. King House and Boyle Abbey have been restored and Lough Key Adventure Centre has an excellent playground for kids, a new zip-it adventure for teenagers and for the less energetic tree-top walks and bog garden trails.”
Read the full pitch at http://iti.ms/YYxN9X

CAHERDANIEL & DERRYNANE, CO KERRY
Nominated by Kevin Dwyer, who wrote: “Beaches spread from Derrynane bay to the sheltered harbour, sand dunes abound. You can be as active or as lazy as you like. For 42 years I spent my holidays in Derrynane. It is not only my favourite Irish holiday destination, it is part of me.”
Read the full pitch at http://iti.ms/18ezhDV

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