County Sligo and Sligo town are located at the heart of Ireland’s vibrant Northwest on the banks of the Garavogue River, which connects the Lough Gill to the Atlantic. The place is home to no less than 5000 archaeological sites, the most important being Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, which looks like a pre-historic film set with rugged landscape littered with tombs, stone circles, passage graves and standing stones. This, along with many other sites, makes the county of Sligo home to one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in the Western World.
Sligo’s famous son is William Butler Yeats who drew much of his inspiration from the beautiful landscape around him, and he is buried in Dunncliffe Graveyard - his epitaph is a line from his poem Under Ben Bulmen, which is where he ended up. Another Sligo celeb, albeit of the mythical variety, is Queen Maeve who is said to be buried under a large stone cairn at the top of Knocknarea Mountain.
Sligo Abbey is the only medieval building left in the town of Sligo and the gothic structure is thought to have sparked the imagination of Bram Stoker into writing his greatest novel, Dracula.
SLIGO’S TOP 10
10. Rosses Point is Sligo’s seaside village with an Irish ‘iron man’ standing out to sea pointing the way to Sligo Harbour.
5. See if you’ve got the ‘luck of the Irish’ with a punt on the ponies at Sligo Racecourse.
9. You’ll need a camera as well as golf clubs when you play a round at Sligo Golf Course. The views from the 2nd green being well above par.
4. Gillighan’s World Emerge from the stone tunnel into a magical paradise where you can get away with the fairies...
8. Catch upon culture at The Model, Sligo’s vibrant arts venue for the contemporary arts.
3. Take a walk through Sligo’s Hazelwood Sculpture Trail – meet fishermen, horses and snakes in the wood.
7. Take a trip back in time at Sligo Folk Park to see how Irish folk did things way back then.
2. Lough Gill is a huge lake filled with tiny islands and surrounded by woodlands and mountains. Utterly picturesque.
6. Sligo County Museum is a time capsule of local history and home to a fine collection of W.B. Yeats memorabilia.
1. Yeats Memorial Building is a poetry lover’s paradise with a fascinating photographic exhibition illustrating his life.
The Cairde Summer Festival takes over the streets of Sligo in July for a seven day extravaganza of family-friendly fun in a carnival atmosphere.
There’s gourmet grub galore at the SO Sligo Food Festival in March. Don’t miss the tense finals of the World Irish Stew Championships.
Sligo’s Celtic Fringe Festival in July celebrates Spanish and Irish things traditional. Irish music and dance, albeit flamenco style.
Sligo Live in October is a huge national festival of traditional, roots and acoustic music with big headlining acts.
Sligo Jazz takes over town in June. Chill out and listen to some top quality music...nice....
The Cos Cos Sean Nos Festival takes place in May and is about as Irish as it gets with traditional music, singing and storytelling.
For vintage motors as well as plenty of crafts and activities head to Sligo Folk Park in June, for the Riverstown Vintage Festival.
Coolaney Summer Festival is in July and features arts, crafts, stalls and entertainment of a sporting nature with a background of great live music.
The Warriors Run Festival in June is a gruelling 10 mile race to the top of Sligo’s Knockarea Mountain and back.
WHEN TO GO
· The peak tourist season falls between July and August when there is the greatest likelihood of a sunny day. However, April and May are great months to consider a trip to Sligo with temperatures mild and the spring flowers at their best. The winter months are probably not for you if you plan to walk or do a lot of sightseeing because the days are short – however Sligo Abbey will have an extra dimension of eeriness at this time of year.
· Summers in Westport are not usually extremely hot with temperatures reaching 20-25°C at most. Winter temperatures seldom fall below freezing but average out at around 4°C or so.
· Take an umbrella and a raincoat in order to be prepared for what the Irish term ‘soft’ days which are warm with misty rain, typical in summer. Some snow can be expected on the mountains during the winter months.
HOW TO GET THERE
· Sligo has two main roads leading to it – the N4 to Dublin and the N15 to Lifford, County Donegal. Bus Eireann runs an intercity service into Sligo Bus Station.
· Sligo acquired a rail link to Dublin in 1862 when Sligo Railway station was opened – further links followed to Enniskillen and Limerick, both of which lines were closed by 1963. The Dublin service is run by Ireland’s national rail operator – a route from Sligo into Dublin Connolly station.
· Sligo Airport is around 5 miles from Sligo Town with flights into Dublin Airport.
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