"Well, that beats Banagher!" This small Shannon-side town is best known in Ireland because of this common phrase, which dates from the 19th century when the town was the very worst example of a "rotten borough"—a corrupt electoral area controlled by the local landed gentry. In short, if something "beats Banagher" it's either pretty bad or rather extraordinary. Nowadays, Banagher is a lively marina town that is a popular base for water-sports enthusiasts. Charlotte Brontë (1816–55) famously spent her honeymoon here. On the second Sunday in September each year one of Ireland's oldest horse fairs takes over the town. Buyers and sellers come from all over the country to take part in the horse trading that gives the town a raffish air thick with the fragrance of horse odor and horse leather. Pick up a copy of the Banagher Heritage Trail, available in shops, pubs, and B&Bs. It will guide you around 17 buildings, sculptures, and sites of interest in the town and along the riverside, including places with a Brontë connection.


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