A weekend in Sligo
We think County Sligo has some of the best scenery in the country and for Ireland that's a big claim. Sligo town is a great base to see a lot of different breathtaking views within very easy journey times.
Just north of Sligo town is the 526 metre high Belbulbin mountain. This recognisable sugar loaf or table (flat topped) mountain dominates the skyline of the entire area and serves to make everything even more attractive than it already is. It's generally recommended not to walk up Belbulbin but further down there is a looped walk with decent enough views and also the petite Glencar Waterfall.
Under the shadow of Belbulben is one of the most scenic sections of the Wild Atlantic Way driving route. One can stop at Drumcliffe Cemetery where Ireland's national poet W.B Yeats is buried. The significance of his works probably won't mean too much to most visitors but nevertheless it's a nice quiet spot with good photo opportunities. For an Irish farm experience you can't go wrong with Atlantic Sheepdogs in Streedagh. Martin the farmer is a really nice and quietly humorous guy who peppers the sheepdog demonstration with titbits about daily life around Benbulbin.
One mountain that you can and really should walk up is Knocknarea where reputedly the body of the legendary Queen Maeve is interred. From the car park on the Sligo side it's around a 40 minute walk to the summit where you will be met with coastal views as far away as County Donegal.
Thanks to the brutal waves coming off the Atlantic Ocean, the west of Ireland has some of the Europe's best surfing spots. Rosses Point, Streedagh Beach and Strandhill are all set up for surfers of all abilities with surf schools and rental huts. Strandhill sits in the shadow of Knockarea and offers plenty of bars and restaurants to warm the cockles after what is sure to be a bracing experience.
On a rainy day there's the stately home of Lisadell House. The ancestral home of the Gore-Booth family is not the most polished of stately home experiences but it certainly has one of the most interesting histories. Stories of Yeats' creepy visits, how one daughter become a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising and the tragic demise of the Gore-Booths is entertainingly brought to life by the excellent guides.
In the evening, down by the River Garavogue in central Sligo is a busy spot full of pubs, bars and restaurants which congregate around this area. If you're bored of eating local by this point in your trip then Sligo's Italian Quarter is the place to go for something a little different. There's a glut of Italian eateries all over the west bank of the river. We're still not sure why there are so many.
Despite being Connaught's second biggest city, Sligo isn't overly blessed with hotels but ones that are there couldn't be any more different. There's the more traditional and cosy Sligo Southern Hotel by the railway station. In a prime spot on the river is the Glasshouse Hotel. This hotel's rooms are decorated in either fluorescent orange or fluorescent green and both options are like staying the night inside a fruit. It's safe to say that this hotel divides opinion but you can't argue with it's location.
The pick of the bunch is the Clayton (named so at the time of writing) Hotel Sligo which is housed in a grand former mental asylum. The modern, chain style interior doesn't quite live up to the ghoulish exterior but its a cool place to stay.