Discover Yeat's Country in County Sligo on the Wild Atlantic Way

17 Aug 2016

Sligo, situated in the rugged northwest corner of Ireland, has a truly distinct profile and iconic features. Nature, arts, history, outdoor pursuits, and culture: Sligo honestly has it all.

Sligo town itself

Sligo, a coastal seaport, is the largest urban centre in the northwest of Ireland with more than 38,000 residents within its district. It has good rail, bus, road, and port links, including a pontoon in the centre of town for visiting yachtsmen and local tour providers.

There are numerous restaurants and fine shopping establishments. Music is of great importance in Sligo, with many musicians coming to play and develop their craft at the many pubs and venues throughout the town. The boy band Westlife was formed in Sligo back in 1998.

There are two theatres: The Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, Ireland’s only full-time venue-based professional theatre ensemble, is in Quay Street, while Hawk's Well Theatre hosts innovative works by fine theatre companies from Ireland and abroad.

The imposing presence of Benbulben

Benbulben is known as Sligo’s 'Table Mountain' and is part of the Dartry Mountains. It has a distinctive and dominant shape, visible from many of the anchorages and roads in the area. It has plant life not found anywhere else in Ireland. There is a new looped walk called Gortarowey, which is all weather in nature consisting of a hard surfaced finish and is suitable for all ages and abilities. The trail begins in a secluded forest area before opening out to provide genuinely stunning close up views of Benbulben head. Later in the walk panoramic views of Donegal Bay are also available with the mountains of Donegal including Sliabh Liag highly prominent in addition to Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle.

The Yeats Family Connection

Sligo and its surrounds were a significant inspiration for the great Irish poet and Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats and his brother, the artist and illustrator, Jack Butler Yeats. An extensive collection of Jack B. Yeats art can be viewed in the Model Niland Gallery. Yeats International Summer School takes place in Sligo every summer, and attracts scholars from around the world.

Drumcliffe, County Sligo is best known as the final resting place of W.B. Yeats. His gravestone in the churchyard, set against the striking backdrop of Benbulben mountain, is inscribed with the self-penned epitaph: "Cast a cold eye / On life, on death. / Horseman, pass by!" The graveyard also contains a high cross and nearby is the site of a 6th century monastery and round tower.

The numerous prehistoric mounds, tombs, and structures

Sligo has 95 identified megalithic sites but Carrowmore, 3 km outside Sligo town, is one of the largest complexes of megalithic tombs in Ireland. It is also among the oldest used passage tombs, dating to approximately 3700 BC.

Meabh's Cairn, conspicuous on the summit of Knocknarea, is a huge mound or cairn of loose stones. It is believed to conceal a Neolithic passage tomb but it has not been excavated. Though by far the largest, it is only one of a number of monuments on the summit.

The wild Atlantic coastal beaches, resorts, and harbours

Enniscrone in County Sligo is a popular holiday seaside resort, known for its 5 km stretch of beach, seaweed baths and fossil rocks. Whether beaching, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, kitesurfing, surfing, or just relaxing in the spa, it’s a holiday you are certain to remember. Enniscrone is also the site of one of Ireland’s newest glamping destinations, with a 747 at the centre of the extraordinary concept site.

Sligo Races

Situated remarkably close to Sligo town centre, Sligo Racecourse is a particularly scenic racing venue, with races taking place throughout the summer and providing great family entertainment. The majority of meetings at Sligo are held in the evening which is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Flat and National Hunt Racing over hurdles are featured, and many of the bigger races at the course are fiercely competitive. The two-day meeting in early August follows on the heels of the Galway Festival and is the track's busiest event.