Land and sea meet in a dramatic confluence along the coast of County Sligo. It's this coming together of earth and water, salt spray and jagged mountain peaks, that helped to inspire the work of William Butler Yeats, the Nobel Prize-winning poet who wrote The Song of Wandering Aengus.
Often known as Yeats Country for how much it inspired his poetry, Sligo is a slice of heaven along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way – coastal villages like Rosses Point and Easkey are perfect spots to enjoy the characteristic hospitality of this region of Ireland, as well as acting as hubs for any visiting watersport enthusiasts.
We can't help but wonder, would the poetry of Yeats have been different if he had seen Sligo today, watching surfers take to the water at Mullaghmore, riding some of the biggest waves in western Europe? The scenes are certainly dramatic, and Sligo's beaches are known worldwide for their legendary breakers, allowing surfers to weave in and out of the white water. And if you don't want to take to the water, never fear – perch up on the beach to watch the experts go at it!
While certain things may have changed since Yeats wandered these lands, some have stayed exactly the same. Ben Bulben provides an always-dramatic backdrop to the coast of County Sligo. With its jagged peaks and valleys waiting to be explored, it's reminiscent of Cape Town's Table Mountain, always a lingering presence on the horizon. And, of course, Yeats himself is buried "Under bare Ben Bulben's head,", as he predicted in one of his poems – his grave can be found in Drumcliff cemetery, not far from the foot of the mountain.
But it's not all surfing and mountains. Take in the area's sheer beauty by taking a boat tour around the Isle of Innisfree on Lough Gill, or picnic in a wild wonderland at Dooney Rock Forest Park. Soak away your worries at the Voya Seaweed Baths in Strandhill, or chug to the offshore island of Inishmurray, where you can wander the ruins of a monastery founded by St Molaise in the sixth century. And if you just haven't had enough of Yeats yet, go to Sligo town and take in his brother Jack's famous paintings at the Model Gallery. Afterwards, Sligo's shops, restaurants and pubs will give you plenty to do.