LOUGH Muckno is Castleblayney’s jewel. Photo courtesy of Monaghan Tourism / Monaghan County Council

Go north to Monaghan

There’s more than stony grey soil in this border county

NOT many Irish counties are also surnames. Kilkenny is one, but unless you count the fictional detective Inspector Wexford, Monaghan is the only other, at least at this moment, that I can think of.

What does the county name bring to mind? For some it’s the poet Patrick Kavanagh and his oft-quoted “stony grey soil”; for others it’s verse of another kind — country music, as performed by Big Tom from Castleblayney.

Both of these helped to form the itinerary for a trip to the border county earlier this month, along with a lot more.

Apart from Castleblayney, which I have visited twice in connection with our Country columnist Tom Gilmore’s book on Big Tom, and the unveiling of the statue of this giant of Country and Irish music, I had no knowledge of the county.

So, we decided to base ourselves in the county town and follow our noses after that…

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