Lets put it down to geographical obstacles, but I have not been able to spend as much time in Sligo as I would like. Any time I do get to visit this Northwest gem, it grows on me more and more. Sligo has a lot to see and do, such as the serious surf breaks off Mullaghmore to the home place of Countess Constance Markievicz, Lissadell House and down the road W.B.Yeats’ grave, all under the shelter of our own table mountain, Ben Bulben.
While the city is compact, it has loads of friendly, chilled-out spots to grab a coffee, tasty lunch or take a yoga class. Not being able to keep away from the sea, I made my way out to Strandhill to explore this scenic area.
On the map, there is a looped road leaving Sligo city towards Strandhill, returning back to join the N4 looking out towards Ballysadare Bay. This gives you the perfect building block to plan your visit!
Leaving Sligo, you will notice signs for Knocknarea (320metres). This is the rather flat looking mountain rising up behind Strandhill. On top of this mountain is a giant cairn, about 60 metres x 10 metres. Queen Maeve of Connaught is said to be buried upright in this cairn. Follow the brown hill-walking signs to the car park. This is well organised with a clear illustrative map of the mountain at the car park with various information about the history and locality of this mountain. A path will bring you up to the top with a number of steps put in place at steep areas. The size of the cairn is pretty impressive once you get near it and there are signs reminding us of the sacred nature of this burial place and to treat it accordingly. As you take in the views below of Sligo Bay, it’s kinda obvious that there are some cool spots in this county! From the sand banks on Ballysadare, to the pounding rollers on Strandhill beach below, looking down on to Coney Island (apparently the U.S Coney Island is named after this older sister) and the runway of Sligo airport (its pretty special to land at Sligo!), Ben Bulben across the bay acting like a giant big brother to the hills of the area. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day you can look north to Lissadell House or even further to the cliffs of Slieve League in South Donegal.
Making my way back to the car and my legs feeling like jelly from the clamber down, I headed straight to Shells Café on the promenade for some of their delicious salad special of poached rhubarb, feta and pickled onions. This pretty place was buzzing and was a very welcome respite from the grey clouds and wild Atlantic weather picking up outside! Nipping next door to Voya, I hopped into a roasting hot seaweed bath and soaked my muscles before reluctantly dragging myself out!
I don’t know what miracles happened while I was in the bath, but as I walked out onto the prom the weather seemed to instantly clear up and the sun started to beam down! I couldn’t turn my back on the beach now so off I walked down towards the end of the beach and not content to walk one mountain in a day – the seaweed must have revived me – I ran up the sand dunes and nearly cried at the steep incline – it definitely didn’t look as steep from the ground!! I can tell you its far more fun running back down the dunes than it is going up!
Feeling I had earned a treat, after many tastings including their award-winning honeycomb, I picked a tub of Mammy Johnston’s home-made ice cream and sat watching the gutsy surfers tumble in the wash and pondered over when my next Sligo adventure was going to happen.
P.S. I managed another flying visit to Sligo! This time I called to Rosses Point & have made a to-do list for next time I head north-west & have more time to spare.
P.P.S Sligo people have sooooooo much on their doorstep!!