Let’s face it: it takes somewhere pretty special to be christened “the land of heart’s desire” by one of Ireland’s most beloved poets. Perched on the Wild Atlantic Way, with the coast to the west and lush lakelands to the east, Sligo town is the gateway to every Irish experience you could desire...
If you feel like a trip back in time, visit historic Lissadell, elegant Coopershill or magnificent Temple House. All three are waiting to transport you through Sligo’s stories. The town is buzzing all year long, with festivals celebrating country music, sea shanties, surfing and literature. Ones to watch for are Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (July) and Sligo Live (October).
Sligo also has a delightful food scene, so fill up on the local, artisan grub at Hooked, grab some succulent veggie bites in Sweet Beat Café, or sip award-winning wines at Coach Lane. Or, see where hit TV show Normal People filmed, with Tubbercurry doubling up as the fictional town of Carricklea, and Streedagh Point as the place where Marianne and Connell fell in love.
From the town centre, Sligo’s attractions are right on your doorstep. Arguably Sligo’s most easily recognisable face, Ben Bulben is an arresting sight. The sheer sides and flat top have earned it the name of Sligo’s Table Mountain and, though daunting, it is accessible to intrepid hikers.
Under the watchful gaze of Ben Bulben mountain, Glencar’s lake and waterfall are breath taking, with the soft green waters, amber rushes and quiet woodlands as tranquil now as when Yeats stood here.
There is a waterfall, Upon Ben Bulben side... Were I to travel far and wide, I could not find a thing so dear.WB Yeats
If you want to explore further, the County Leitrim border is just 15 minutes north. At this beautiful border – with one foot in Sligo and one in Leitrim, one in reality and one in poetry – it’s easy to see what inspired one of the greatest writers in the world.
Just 10 minutes west of the town, Knocknarea towers 327m above the sea. At the mountaintop is the second-largest stone cairn in Ireland, said to be the ancient resting place of legendary warrior Medb (pronounced Mave). Traditionally, climbers seeking good luck pick up a stone at the foot of the hill and deposit it at her tomb, before enjoying the spectacular views north across the bay, to Ben Bulben.
A few miles away... the stupendous mountain slab called Ben Bulben rises like a natural acropolis, the home of some ancient race of Irish godsThe New York Times
Of course, one of Sligo’s biggest draws is its proud status on the Wild Atlantic Way as the perfect place for surfers and water-lovers looking for a cold paradise. From Strandhill in the south to Mullaghmore at the northern tip, surfing is almost a religion on this part of the island.
We are at the edge of a continent… It feels like a blue-and-white slice of Bondi served up in the west of IrelandCondé Nast Traveller
The majesty of the sea here is just as easily appreciated from the shore; a gentle stroll along Rosses Point beach or a soothing soak in the Voya seaweed baths promise all the benefit of the ocean, with none of the risk. In other words: bliss!
Don't miss these things to see and do!
Castle Dargan Hotel
Castle Dargan Estate is a 4 star luxury hotel, golf course and spa situated close to Sligo Town. This scenic Sligo hotel is set on 170 acres of rolling parkland and a championship Golf Course. Unwind in the relaxing Icon Spa which overlooks the stunning scenic surroundings.
The Model - Home of the Niland Collection
The Model- home of the Niland Collection in Rathquarter, County Sligo celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ireland’s foremost artist Jack Butler Yeats with a very special exhibition of never-before-seen works. 'Salt Water Ballads' presents a veritable treasure trove of sea-themed works by Yeats.