Visiting County Sligo? This part of the Irish Province of Connacht has a number of attractions you will not want to miss. Plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day or two in Sligo when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while ...
Spend a Day at the Beach
Sligo has some fine beaches - from sand to pebbles, from those dedicated to swimmers and watched over by lifeguards to those where surfers hit the waves. Though the water may be on the cold side, a quick splash is nearly always possible. Or at least a long, bracing walk. Beaches to look out for are at Enniscrone, between Aughris and Ardabrone, at Strandhill (no bathing here), between Cregg and Rosses Point, at Raghly, between Lislary and Moneygold, south of Roskeeragh Point and at Mullaghmore.
Get Pampered by Seaweed
If the beach is not your thing (or the Irish weather plays up), why not enjoy a relaxing soak nearby? Sligo is well-known for its seaweed baths, where you can relax and refresh in a hot tub with ... seaweed. Sounds scarier than it is. The Kilcullen Seaweed Baths at Enniscrone and the Voya Seaweed Baths at Strandhill await you ...
Immerse yourself in Yeats
Sligo is all about poetry and painting - brothers William Butler Yeats and Jack B. Yeats have seen to that. While the former may be regarded as Ireland's most famous literary figure (though others may dispute this claim), the latter is certainly one of the most important Irish painters of the 20th century. In Sligo Town you may visit the Yeats Exhibition at the Memorial Building (dedicated to the poet) and a good collection of paintings at the Model Arts & Niland Gallery. Many landscapes have Yeats connections as well. And don't forget W.B.Yeats' slightly underwhelming grave beneath Benbulben, at Drumcliff.
If you like your history a bit more robust, Lissadell House will be high on your list - home to Countess Constance Markiewicz, famed republican firebrand, social reformer and only female commander in the Irish Citizens Army during the Easter Rising. Or visit the memorial to Bartholomew Teeling at Collooney - this Irishman, an officer in the French Army, single-handedly took out a British battery during the invasion of 1798.
Though the Percevals may not have a title, they certainly had all the trappings of the landed gentry - including a great house, a sprawling demesne and their own lake - today Temple House near Ballymote offers first-class hospitality as a luxurious B&B. Not the cheapest overnight stay you can have in County Sligo, but maybe the best ...
Come Face to Face with Ancient History and Myths
County Sligo has the largest stone-age cemetery in Ireland. The extensive Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery covers acres of land and invites you to explore and discover. Those with a good grounding in mythology and the theories regarding ley-lines might spend hours here, puzzling about obvious alignments and their possible significance. Or climb nearby Knoocknarea, on top of which Queen Maebh's Cairn awaits - maybe her grave? The view over Sligo Harbour, Sligo Bay and Ballysadare Bay is nothing short of magical too. And do not forget Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery, the Creevykeel Court Cairn, stout Ballymote Castle and the monastic remains at Drumcliff, complete with the stump of a round tower and a high cross.
See Odd Sligo Stuff ...
Though the statue of W.B.Yeats in Sligo Town may already strike you as odd, wait until you see the Iron Man pointing the way from Rosses Point to Sligo Harbour. Here a larger-than-life sailor, made from metal and painted in life-like colours, helps struggling mariners find the right direction. But maybe you'll find the depiction of a camel on the Drumcliff high cross even more curious ...
Eagles Flying, just outside Ballymote, is the visitor face of the Irish Raptor Research Centre, a non-profit sanctuary and breeding station for birds of prey. Twice daily during the main tourist season all sorts of big birds are let lose in a stunning flying display. Visitors can see and often interact with eagles, owls, vultures and assorted other feathered friends. And yes, they even have an indoor arena if the weather is so bad that even the birds prefer to walk ...
This is not for the faint-hearted: Benbulben with a height of 525 metres above sea level (and its proximity to the coast makes this very literal) offers a challenge, as the western end of the Dartry Mountains is not at all easily accessible and there are no easy ways up. Only recommended for serious, experienced hill-walkers with good stamina and excellent orientation skills.
Traditional Music in Sligo
Visiting County Sligo and stuck for something to do in the evening? Well, you could do worse than head out into a local pub (which, by default, will be an "original Irish pub") and then join a traditional Irish session ... so why not give it a try?
Most sessions start at around 9:30 pm or whenever a few musicians have gathered.