Mullaghmore, County Sligo

Classiebawn Castle in the shadow of Ben Bulben
Classiebawn Castle in the shadow of Ben Bulben

This is Yeats Country. This is surfer country. This is a country of castles, seaside, and Ireland's very own Table Mountain. This is Mullaghmore, County Sligo

Jutting out of Sligo’s northern edge, close to the county’s border with Donegal, the small peninsula of Mullaghmore sits dramatically out into the North Atlantic. 

The waters here are not simply photogenic. They have become known for some of the most sought-after waves in surfing. Mullahgmore is notably championed for one big break in particular which Surfing magazine has dubbed “a mutant Irish left”. Surfing is in the blood here. The famous Irish pro-surfer and local Sligo legend, Easkey Britton, was even named after a beach called Easkey, just an hour’s drive further south of Mullaghmore. While you’re in the neighbourhood, why not head down to Strandhill and indulge in a indulge in the traditional Irish therapy/detox treatment of a warm seaweed bath courtesy of Voya Seaweed Baths. 

Anyone for golf?

Curving around to create a natural bay, the peninsula’s eastern coast stretches into an elegant sweep. From here, you're looking up along Donegal’s southern borders at Bundoran Golf Club and the point where the River Erne flows into the Atlantic.

By the mountains and sea

Also on this eastern side, sits the tiny village of Mullaghmore overlooked by two of Sligo’s icons. The first is Ben Bulben mountain, part of the Dartry Mountains, a range shared by both Sligo and its neighbour Leitrim. Ben Bulben sits on Sligo’s coast surging out towards the North Atlantic and shadowing the village of Mullaghmore.

A poet’s land

For many, Sligo is considered Yeats Country. For a poet so concerned with his home county and especially its landscape, there was no escaping Ben Bulben. The mountain’s most noted reference in Yeats’s poetry is in the work Under Ben Bulben, in which he describes horsemen who “ride the wintry dawn/Where Ben Bulben sets the scene".

Walk in the wild

For those wishing to become more intimately acquainted with the mountain, the Ben Bulben (Gortarowey) Looped Walk is a 4km (2.5 mile) route of easy-going terrain and some minor ascents. For a more thorough on-foot exploration of Mullaghmore, set off on the 8km (5 mile) beach and pier walk along Bunduff Strand.

Few images of Mullaghmore, and for that matter Sligo, will fail to include Classiebawn Castle. Sitting in a modest rise in an evergreen spread of field about a hundred metres from the sea, there’s an air of Disney whimsy about Classiebawn. Instantly recognisable by its conical turret, building of the castle was begun by the British statesman. Classiebawn is privately owned, but well worth a visit before you set back on your Wild Atlantic Way journey.

Geographical coordinates: Latitude: 54.465546; Longitude: -8.449455