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,


Just a few days remain for members of the public to nominate towns, villages, cities and regions for The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition. The accompanying map shows the spread of nominations so far, covering all 32 counties. With 161 nominations, Sligo is the county with most entries so far, followed by counties Kerry and Donegal, both of which also have more than 100. Cities and islands have also been nominated. Northern counties remain under-represented among the nominations so far.

Places nominated by the public will be put before our panel of judges over the coming weeks, to be considered for the final award. There will also be runners-up and smaller prizes. The purpose of the competition is not only to find a winner, but also to highlight lesser-known holiday destinations.

Reader nominations are the starting point of the competition. Only places nominated by readers will be eligible, and the closing date is this Saturday, April 20th.

Nominating requires only a short write-up and answers to some straightforward questions. The method is set out clearly at

Below are some of the recent entries.

When I go to Sligo, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Kilkenny or other areas of beauty around the country, I feel several things. I feel the fresh air and the wonderful country calm of nature. Then I notice how much petrol I’ve used up to get out to this beach five miles outside the town centre (it’s a bit bad that there is no Dart down here).

Then, I start to feel left out. Everyone else knows the words of the songs in the pub in the hotel. Everyone knows where to go for chips after the nightclub. Everyone has plans for tomorrow to see the match. I’m just here for the weekend.

Lastly, I start wishing I could get a Donnybrook Fair salad for lunch down here, and wondering if McDonald’s is the only place I can get a latte. And, oh no, Ed Sheeran is playing the 02 tonight – I so wanted to see him play live.

The thing is, although not the most attractive county on an average cloudy day, Dublin is the best place to actually spend time and money, and nature takes a back seat. You don’t need empty beaches to focus on your problems; you need entertainment and action to have a good holiday.

Most people who come to Dublin love it so much they stay way past the end of their holiday. What other place in Ireland can say the same?

Co Donegal

I first saw Portnablagh from under the hood of a pram and today my children love it almost as much as I do. Generations of Northerners have fled the 12th each July to find the waters of freedom flowing over the sands of time in this soft, wet cove.

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.


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.