Sligo County - a hive of activity in the heart of Yeats Country.
The west coast of Ireland is famed for its magnificent scenery, and County Sligo is certainly no exception. The countryside and coast that surround the county town of the same name, is simply stunning and steeped in folklore for a memorable activity holiday in Ireland. It’s a great base too, with neighbouring Donegal and the south of Northern Ireland all within easy reach. A walking holiday in County Sligo will not disappoint.
Sligo town itself is bursting to the brim with bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, from the very quaint to the extremely luxurious. It is the perfect place to dine for any visitor with any budget. On a rainy day, there's always a spot of shopping to do along the high streets or in the Quayside Shopping Centre. Or maybe a visit to Sligo County Museum and Yeat's Memorial Building and Art Gallery are right up your street. However, with the abundance of countryside, full of myths, folklore and history, there's plenty to see and do in both the rural and urban areas of this county.
When making your way into the surrounding countryside, it’s not hard to see why the renowned poet W.B. Yeats felt most inspired by the landscape. So much so as to be buried at Drumcliff, a popular place to visit and see his grave, with the most stunning views of the mountain Benbulben. Within the same village is Glencar waterfall and walk. A beautiful walk, however a walking holiday in County Sligo provides many walks to suit all abilities. Whether a hardened rambler or not, breathtaking views are never far away.
For the more adventurous, there are stunning walks around Benbulben and Benwisken. In particular the 10km loop around the Gleniff horse shoe is a must and offers spectacular views over to Donegal bay and the Atlantic Ocean. If you wish to walk further, heading out towards Benbulben from the horse shoe along footpaths and roads if well worth your while. For a gentler stroll, the Hazelwood trail and Half Moon Bay is definitely worth a visit. The forest trail has plenty of path options and can be walked for up to an hour. If you're fascinated by folklore, nearby is Knocknarea and Madb's Cairn. The tomb on top of the hill dates to probably around 3,000BCE and although it has not been excavated, it is said to be the resting place of mythical Irish Queen Maeve. The hill can be walked for 20-40 minutes, and visitors are requested to not climb the cairn. If walking happens to not be your bag, a lot of these places and sight are accessible by country roads or via alternative routes so you won’t miss out!
For the nicer days, there are beaches aplenty along the coastline for families to enjoy. Streedagh, Mullaghmore, Dunmoran Strand, Enniscrone (with an 18 hole golf course) and Strandhill all offer sandy beaches. From Rosses's Point you can grab a boat over the Coney Island. This area is great for surfers, in particluar Dunmoran Strand guarantees great surf and Strandhill hosts an annual surf festival.
When considering this destination for an activity holiday in Ireland, the unpredictable weather is an obvious factor. Going either May/June or September/October will give you a better chance of nice weather. July and August, being the summer holidays, are the busiest time of the year for Irish tourism. So if you wish to avoid the masses and still enjoy pleasant weather, going either side of these months is advisable. However, the scenery is still stunning for a family walking holiday in County Sligo at any time of year.
The closest airport is Knock airport in County Mayo, which is a 48 minute drive. Although there are buses around that can take you from Sligo to Strandhill, Rosses Point and also large towns such as Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Donegal and Derry, it would be recommendable to hire a car to reach the sights at your leisure.