Sligo Sets Your Spirit Free
SLIGO IS THE URBAN CAPITAL OF THE NORTH WEST REGION. NESTLING AMIDST AN EXTRAORDINARY AND SCENIC LANDSCAPE, RICH IN HERITAGE AND MYTHOLOGY, IT ALSO SITS ON SOME OF THE MOST APPEALING AND LEAST DISCOVERED STRETCHES OF COAST ALONG THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY.
“There are no strangers, only friends you have not met yet”
– William Butler Yeats
From the myths and legends of ancient Ireland to the poetry of WB Yeats and the music of Coleman, Westlife and Dervish. Sligo's cultural and literary heritage is world famous.
The county offers a unique destination with the dramatic backdrop of Benbulben, glimmering beaches, rolling green hills and magical woodlands, with unsurpassed leisure activities and state-of-the-art business facilities. From walking, water sports and golf to seaweed baths and horse riding or even some leisurely fishing, the county has much to offer whatever your interests may be. From the myths and legends of ancient Ireland to the poetry of WB Yeats and the music of Coleman, Westlife and Dervish, Sligo’s cultural and literary heritage is world famous and actively celebrated.
Culture in Sligo is a lively, attractive combination of contemporary and traditional theaters and centers. Writers and artists have been inspired by Sligo; the poet William Butler Yeats is buried in Drumcliffe and Sligo is often referred to as Yeats county. There are museums that offer time for reflection on bygone times alongside impressive stately homes, each with a story to tell.
The magnificent Lissadell House, so beloved of William Butler Yeats and built by the famous Gore Booth family should not be missed. Set amid the stunning scenery of mountain, woods and sea, Lissadell House & Gardens are famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz and her siblings Eva and Josslyn Gore Booth. Constance was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising, and was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons at Westminister, London. Eva was a poet of distinction and a suffragist while Josslyn created at Lissadell one of the premier horticultural estates in Ireland.
Richard de Burgo, the Red Earl of Ulster, built the remains of this Anglo-Norman castle in AD1300 and it was the strongest fortress in Connacht. The Book of Ballymote was probably compiled here c.1400AD. Creevykeel Court Tomb This is one of the best examples of a court tomb in Ireland. It consists of a long, trapeze shaped cairn enclosing an oval court and a burial chamber of two compartments, dating from the 4th millennium BC.
Drumcliff Church, Round Tower & High Cross
This site is a monastic settlement and also the burial place of the famous Irish poet WB Yeats. It’s importance dates from 574AD when St Colmcille founded a monastery here. The principle visible remains of the monument are the remains of Sligo’s only round tower, a high cross and a fragment of a plain high cross. The high cross dating from the 10th century has scenes from both the old and new Testaments.
Known locally as The Abbey, this Dominican Friary was founded in 1252/3 by Maurice Fitzgerald. The site contains a great wealth of carvings including Gothic and Renaissance tomb sculpture, a well preserved cloister and the only sculptured 15th century high altar to survive in any Irish monastic church. This enigmatic friary will inspire and enlighten its visitors. Access to the site is by stone stairway.
Overlooking Carrowmore megalithic cemetery on the summit of Knocknarea Mountain is the huge flat-topped cairn called ‘Miosgan Meadhbha’ (Maeve’s Cairn) at 55m in diameter and 10m high. The name of the monument along with folklore suggests it was built for the mythical Maeve, the Iron Age Queen of Connacht. Walkers can access via a boardwalk from base to summit.
Sea & Surf
Explore Sligo’s amazing mix of beaches at Rosses Point, Dunmoran Strand, Streedagh Strand, Mullaghmore, Enniscrone, Strandhill and Culleenamore. Cast your rod, experience an abundance of waterbased activities or check out world class surfing, sailing, scuba diving, deep sea angling, fishing, island tours and more.
Coney Island, accessible by land at low tide, is beautifully isolated and a wildlife paradise. The mud flats provide water feeding grounds for the Brent goose, as well as wild duck and waders. It is believed locally that the island’s more famous namesake in New York was named after the Irish Island by a Sligo sea captain.
The seaside village of Strandhill is one of Ireland’s most popular beach breaks while west Sligo is renowned for its quality surf and takes in Aughris, Easkey and Enniscrone.
The Model is Ireland’s leading regional arts centre, with a strong reputation for experimentation, collaboration and engagement. A year-round programme includes contemporary exhibitions, film, music, literature, festivals and performance. It is also home to one of Ireland’s most important municipal collections of twentieth century Irish art featuring works by John and Jack B Yeats, Estella Solomons, Paul Henry and Louis Le LeBrocquy among others. The Model receives new and exciting acquisitions to The Niland Collection regularly. In 2016 The Model acquired the complete series of Jack B Yeats, A Broadside, (1915 – 1918), and recently received a very special donation of a considerable body of artworks from the Yeats Family sale at Sotheby’s.
Enniscrone is a glorious stop on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, snuggled into the Sligo coastline. The breath-taking landscape and coastal scenery of Enniscrone will remain in your heart long after you have returned to the everyday world. Steeped in culture, Enniscrone offers visitors an authentic Irish holiday experience. It is known country wide for its magnificent sunsets, something you might like to experience on horseback with the breathtaking and ever-changing landscape of Sligo making for a memorable occasion.
Sligo offers a wide diversity of excellent approved accommodation providers ranging from contemporary, luxury 4* Hotels to old world castles. Choose a rural or urban experience, enjoy a break in an Irish home and sample a true taste of Ireland with a modern Irish family. The choice is endless but the quality assured. If you prefer the great outdoors, sleep under the stars at Sligo’s Caravan & Camping sites all located in areas of stunning beauty and backpackers have a choice of excellent holiday hostels.
Food Glorious Food
What makes Sligo such a fantastic foodie destination is the culture that goes hand in hand with the food experience. Producers take pride in providing fresh, local, healthy, organic food that nourishes the body while the scenery nurtures the soul. As you drive through Sligo, you’ll witness the outstanding landscape which yields the fresh ingredients that create its exceptional cuisine. The lush green fields, the majestic mountains, the charming farms, the salmon rivers and the mighty Atlantic Ocean – Sligo’s premiere location on the Wild Atlantic Way means you can enjoy freshly caught fish in any local restaurant. Alternatively, indulge your taste buds on Knocknarea honey, wild Mullaghmore lobster, Lissadell oysters and fresh eggs from the foot of Benbulben Mountain.
The Great Outdoors
The Sligo Races are a dramatic sight with Benbulben as a backdrop and afterwards there is plenty of craic to be had with south Sligo being renowned for its traditional music. The county hosts a wealth of festivals and events throughout the year. Say ‘fore’ in Sligo; a county that boasts magnificent links courses along the Atlantic seaboard and provides some of the most challenging and exhilarating golf in the world. Challenge yourself on the 27-hole links courses at Rosses Point or play 18 at Enniscrone or Strandhill. Golfers will delight at playing parklands over fairways adorned with ancient mature trees, natural water features and unspoiled views such as those at Castle Dargan ( 18 holes), or a gentler 9-hole course at Tubbercurry and Ballymote.
Say ‘fore’ in Sligo; a county that boasts magnificent links courses along the Atlantic seaboard and provides some of the most challenging and exhilarating golf in the world. Challenge yourself on the 27-hole links courses at Rosses Point or play 18 at Enniscrone or Strandhill. Golfers will delight at playing parklands over fairways adorned with ancient mature trees, natural water features and unspoiled views such as those at Castle Dargan ( 18 holes), or a gentler 9-hole course at Tubbercurry and Ballymote.
Myths and Legends
Sligo’s archaeological and mythological heritage is incredibly rich. It contains one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric and later monuments in Western Europe – in fact, the ancient county is filled with over 5,000 archaeological sites. Situated above the western shore of Lough Arrow is the impressive passage tomb cemetery of Carrowkeel, located in the beautiful limestone upland of the Bricklieve Mountains. There are 14 cairns here with a further 6 cairns extending to the west to Keshcorran Mountain, which is capped with a large cairn, dating back to between 3,800-3,300 BC during the Neolithic period. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest and most important in Europe. Over 60 tombs are recorded all of which predate the pyramids of Egypt.
Sligo will enchant you. It is a county that celebrates its independent spirit. A place steeped in history and mythology, with a creative tradition that lives in the music, art, poetry and expression of its people. From lakes and rivers to beaches and dramatic limestone mountains, Sligo is a place where ancient sites, spectacular landscapes and rolling waves inspire stories, trails and adventures that will open your mind and invigorate your body.
TOP 10 SLIGO ATTRACTIONS
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
This is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest, with monuments ranging from five and a half thousand to six and a half thousand years old.
In glorious isolation at Ballinfull take a tour of this magnificent 1830’s house, visit the gardens and view Countess Markievicz Exhibition.
Atlantic Sheep Dogs
At Atlantic Sheep dogs in Streedagh, you’ll get to meet and spend time with some of the smartest dogs in the world. Get to see the incredible teamwork between man and dog.
In the heart of Sligo visit the 13th Century Dominican Friary, containing a great wealth of carvings Including Gothic and Renaissance tomb sculpture, awell preserved cloister and the only sculptured 15th century high altar to survive in any
Irish monastic church.
Drumcliffe Round Tower & High Cross
Monastic settlement dates from 574AD. The principle visible remains are of Sligo’s only round tower, a high cross and a fragment of a plain high cross. The high cross is an excellent example of a figure sculpted cross and dates from the 10th century.
Eagles Flying / Irish Raptor Research Centre
Located at Portinch, in Ballymote, Ireland’s biggest sanctuary for birds of prey andowls offers you impressions of majestic raptors soaring over beautiful locations.
Coleman Irish Music Centre
The Michael Coleman Heritage Centre draws together the many strands of the South Sligo musical traditional.
Dolly’s Cottage at Strandhill is a 200-year-old traditional thatched cottage, the only one of its kind in the area, which is open to the public. It is a stone-built cottage with two rooms and a loft with original walls, roof, roof beams, fireplace and pouch bed.
At Lavagh near Tubbercurry visit Knocknashee, Legendary Hill of the Fairies, ad one of the 7 sacred hills in Ireland. Fun for school, coach tours, birthday parties, family groups and overseas visitors.
This is the copy of the article that was published in Autumn issue of the Discover Ireland Magazine.