County Sligo Information
Sligo is located in the north-west of Ireland. It is one of the most picturesque counties in the region, with an inviting coastline, great beaches and beautiful mountain scenery. Sligo is part of the province of Connacht and it is bordered by Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Sligo has a rich literary history and is often called Yeats’ Country due to its association with the artist Jack Yeats and the poet WB Yeats. William Butler Yeats spent part of his youth in Sligo, and was inspired by its beautiful scenery, which is referenced in a number of his poems.
Sligo Town is busy and lively with lots of great restaurants, pubs (often featuring live music sessions) and shopping. The county also has lots of music and literary festivals, especially during the summer months, plenty of varied accommodation options, and its golf courses and surfing beaches (Enniscrone, Strandhill, Easkey) ensure it is a great place to enjoy a family holiday.
Although no longer serviced by its own airport, Sligo is still easily accessible by air, bus or train. The nearest airports are Ireland West, Shannon and Dublin. Bus Éireann services County Sligo from Dublin, Galway and other major cities, and there are various local bus companies in operation.
The Dublin / Sligo rail service serves Co. Sligo and there are stations at Ballymote, Collooney and Sligo. Renting a car is also a good option, allowing visitors to see all the county has to offer, while enjoying the scenery and making stop-offs.
Sligo’s Top Five
Megalithic Monuments – Carrowmore megalithic cemetery is located about 5km from Sligo town.It is the site of one of Europe’s oldest cemeteries of stone-age tombs, thought to be around 700 years older than Newgrange in Meath. Carrowkeel megalithic cemetery, situated in the Bricklieve mountains, is also highly recommended, especially if you enjoy hiking and walking. It involves about a 30 minute walk to reach the tombs from the car-park. The views over the unspoilt Sligo countryside and the tombs themselves are well worth the journey.
Eagles Flying – Eagles Flying is the largest centre for birds of prey and owls in Ireland. Set in beautiful countryside, it provides flying demonstrations, where visitors can view the elegant, powerful birds of prey soaring and swooping overhead, explains how the birds hunt, and focuses on protecting these endangered species.
Irish Traditions – A celebration of Irish culture, music and heritage, the Coleman Traditional Irish Music Centre in Gurteen, promotes traditional Irish music as a ‘traidisiún beo' or living tradition, and hosts sessions and music classes. The Sligo Folk Park is a community based initiative set in Riverstown. It recreates 19th Century Irish life in the grounds of the restored Millview House, and has a museum, a village street and great exhibitions.
Yeats’ Country – Visitors to County Sligo cannot but admire the beauty that so influenced the great poet, from its sparkling lakes to its rugged mountains and lake-side islands. Lough Gill, located in the south of the county, is a beautiful, glassy-still lake whose central island Inisfree, inspired one of Yeats’ most famous poems, and a cruise on the lake is a lovely way to pass a summer’s afternoon. On the far side of the lake, is the rock of Dooney, (referenced in the poem, ‘The Fiddler of Dooney’) with views to the towering Belbulben. Yeats also spent time at Lissadell House, (which at the time of publishing has partial public access). Finally, Drumcliffe Cemetery in Drumcliffe village is the burial place of WB Yeats, under the epitaph ‘Cast a cold eye on Life, on Death. Horseman pass by’.
Surfing –Sligo is a great place to learn or perfect surfing skills. There are plenty of great breaks and numerous surf schools at beaches such as Easkey, Strandhill and Enniscrone. Kitesurfing lessons are also available. These sports are growing in popularity throughout the north-west region due to the favourable conditions and winds.
A Taste of Sligo’s Festivals
The Feis Shilgigh is a springtime festival, encompassing spoken verse recitals and classical and traditional music and song, while the widely acclaimed Feis Ceoil runs in April and celebrates music, dance, art, singing and drama. The Cairde Summer festival takes place in Sligo Town in July, and hosts a wide variety of shows and events with a focus on celebrating Sligo’s multicultural, creative heart.
The Coleman Traditional Festival is held in Gurteen every August and is a weekend celebration of Irish traditional music. The Yeats Summer School runs every summer in July and August and highlights the ongoing legacy of WB Yeats in Sligo. Enniscrone’s Black Pig Festival is a fun family festival with a parade, street theatre and musical entertainment. Sligo Jazz is held in Sligo in July, featuring Irish and international Jazz artists in venues throughout Sligo. The Tubercurry Old Fair day is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs and runs every August, highlighting heritage, crafts and family entertainment.
The Warrior’s Run takes competitors on a multi-terrain 15 kilometre run from the beachfront in Strandhill to the top of Knocknarea, around Queen Maeves Cairn and back to Strandhill again, following in the footsteps of ancient warriors. Lunasa is a newly established family friendly festival, running in August and highlighting the best the county has to offer, incorporating street parties, workshops and great music. Sligo Live takes place in October, and hosts over 100 events (the majority of which are free to attend) in a wide ranging musical and entertainment programme.
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"Travel and change of pace impart new vigor to the mind" - Seneca