Hidden Gems Competition ( Belfast)

Write about your favourite places and spaces and see your work published online

Joe Mahon knows his way around Ulster like the back of his hand. But ask the presenter of Lesser Spotted Ulster and managing director of Westway Films his favourite 'hidden gem' and he doesn't know where to start:
'There are so many. But if I had to pick one, I'd go for Torr Head. It's a unique place. All those tiny coves where salmon fishing still goes on and a lifestyle that has had to adust to living on steep hills. Even the sheep have shorter back legs!'
CultureNorthernIreland is launching a competition for heritage lovers to write about the places and spaces close to their hearts. The top three entries will receive great prizes and winners’ work will be displayed on the CultureNorthernIreland website.
Across Northern Ireland there are many excellent attractions that are not well known by the public. No matter how small or insignificant a place seems there are a wealth of stories and experiences that make it unique. The CultureNorthernIreland competition is a chance for people to tell their own individual stories and local histories.
At the launch, television presenter Joe Mahon emphasised that there were plenty of topics for people to choose from:
‘For such a small place we have an amazing variety – dramatic coastlines and rock formations, mountains, bogs, forests, lakes, towns, drumlin country, and that’s just the geography!...When we started Lesser Spotted Ulster, people said that we’d run dry of material. The opposite has been the case. It’s like peeling layers of an onion. You find more and more.’
Mahon added that another place he had found ‘seriously distinctive’ was the system of caves in Boho in County Fermanagh. ‘People were living there 8,000 years ago; there are amazing underground lakes and waterfalls, yet it’s very undeveloped in terms of tourism.’
David Lewis, director of CultureNorthernIreland, said that the website wanted to encourage its users to head off the beaten track: ‘While everyone’s familiar with traditional attractions such as the Giants Causeway and Walls of Derry, there’s so much more to be discovered. CultureNorthernIreland is on a quest to find the hidden treasures in our midst – those fascinating stories and places that people just don’t know about.’
Competition entries should describe why the ‘hidden gem’ is so special and be around 500 words. Topics could be an unusual building, striking landscape, sporting legend or local folk tale. Closing date for the competition is December 2 and our top hidden gems will be announced by December 9. Please email competition entries to info@culturenorthernireland.org.
Prizes for the competition have been confirmed as:
First: A night in Belfast Hotel Malmaison, including breakfast.
Second: A meal for two in Serai (formerly Lemongrass).
Third: National Trust membership for a year.