Sligo town: a charmer in the west

Sligo town © Shutterstock

Sligo has long bewitched visitors eager to explore the land that captured the heart of local poet and Nobel Laureate, WB Yeats

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...

A fantastic, low-key and easily manageable base for exploring Yeats country

Lonely Planet

Feel like a trip back in time? Historic Lissadell, elegant Coopershill and magnificent Temple House are waiting to transport you through Sligo’s stories. Fancy a festival? From country music to sea shanties, surfing and literature celebrations, the town is buzzing year round. Ones to watch for are Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (July) and Sligo Live (October). Want to sample delightful cuisine? Fill up on local, artisan grub at Hooked, grab some succulent veggie bites in Sweet Beat Café, or sip award-winning wines at Coach Lane

Yeats country

From the town centre, Sligo’s attractions are right on your doorstep, with the County Leitrim border and idyllic Glencar lake just 15 minutes north. Under the watchful gaze of Ben Bulben mountain, Glencar’s lake and waterfall are breathtaking, 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

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.

Stretching your legs

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 gods

The New York Times

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.

Surf’s up!

Of course, one of Sligo’s biggest draws is its proud status on the Wild Atlantic Way as the perfect place for surfers 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 Ireland

Condé 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!

Discover more around Sligo

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