After visiting and exploring several places in County Donegal we decided to move south to continue exploring Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way, this time our road trip took us to County Sligo also called Yeats’ country. Once again, we were lucky with the weather particularly after a rainy week but living now for 7 years in Ireland I know better and even if the weather wasn’t good enough that wouldn’t stop me going. This journey once more took us to beautiful beaches with thin golden sands outstretching for miles, breathtaking scenery, hiking and history. Join me and come along!
Wood Lake View Chalet
We recently started to use Airbnb and this time we stayed in a cosy chalet at Wood Lake View only 6 miles away from Sligo town. The place is located in an amazing area with views to Lough Gill. That’s the perfect place for a couple to relax and enjoy the outstanding landscape. It is so good to be surrounded by nature and have the chance to listen to the sound of it! We had a lovely dinner on the porch overlooking the fields, the mountains and the lake.
Our first stop took us to the neighbour county, Donegal, just to explore a place we haven’t been before, Rossnowlagh Beach. A beautiful beach where fine golden sand outstretches as far as your eyes can see. The beach was awarded this year with the blue flag. This is a haven for surfers but also for walkers. I must admit I was surprised with the water’s temperature which was very good, the problem was the wind once you leave the water. If you are a surf aficionado this is the place to come.
A picturesque fishing village with a beautiful small port well known for its aquatic activities like angling, diving, paddling and surfing. Take a walk and explore this beautiful place.
Close by you will find Mullaghmore Head well known for its magnificent view of Classiebawn Castle with the iconic Benbulben in the background. The Castle which was built in the 19th century and belonged to Lord Palmerston who was 2 times Prime Minister of England is now a private property and unfortunately, it’s not possible to visit, but if you come along the coast road you will be able to take a good picture and enjoy the amazing views.
Another fantastic beach with a huge sand path and another great place to have a sight of Benbulben. This place is famous because of the Spanish Armada shipwreck that took place in the 16th century when Spain was trying to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I of England. Three Spanish ships were trying to take shelter from the ferocious storm when they were ambushed and massacred by the English troops.
Strandhill is a touristic place due to the spectacular beach with waves that grab surfers’ attention. The views are striking not only because of the ocean but also because of the dunes, the golf club and the stunning Knocknarea Mountain. It’s a vibrant place with restaurants, shops, a school to learn surf, a great ice cream shop, golf, seaweed baths…
We were supposed to visit Park’s Castle but due to a rally competition the castle was closed so we decided to go hike Knocknarea Mountain a mountain with 1078 feet high where at the top lies the cairn of Queen Maeve of Connacht. From the car park to the top it’s about 40/45 minutes through a stoned path. The views are spectacular. As you start heading up you can enjoy the views to Strandhill beach and the iconic Benbulben as well as the famous Irish sheep. Your effort will be rewarded I assure you. At the top you will face the cairn of Queen Maeve, the Iron Age Queen of Connacht, it is a place of ritual from the Neolithic time. Ireland is full of mysticism and this place is just an example of that. I can assure you this is the perfect place to be to overlook this beautiful called Yeats’ country.
A nice place along the Wild Atlantic Way coast for a walk. The icon is the statue of a woman with her arms stretching to the sea called The Waiting on the Shore and represents all the women who waited and prayed for their men who went sail the sea in Ireland to return safe.
Benbulden is undoubtedly Sligo’s landmark. This absolutely stunning mountain formed during the Ice Age and has a unique shape and can be seen from almost every place in Sligo. I can easily understand why Benbulben has inspired Yeats’ poems. You will be enthralled by it as well.
“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid,
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago; a church stands near,
By the road an ancient Cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase,
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!”
W.B. Yeats, “Under Ben Bulben”
A mandatory stop as at this place is the resting place of that who wonderfully wrote about the county that has inspired some of his poems, W.B.Yeats. His grave is at the entrance of the churchyard and at his grave it’s possible to read the last verses I transcribed above. Apparently, Yeats died in France in 1939 and he asked to be buried at this bucolic place overlooking the majestic Benbulben.
This beautiful mansion from the 19th century is located in an area of outstanding beauty and though today it is a private property that belongs to Edward Walsh and his wife Constance Cassidy and their seven children who saved this grandiose mansion from neglect. I truly recommend a guided tour to learn more about the famous sisters Gore-Booth, Constance and Eva who had such important roles in terms of politics, the suffragettes, poetry and arts. The two sides of Constance, whilst her influential role in the Easter rising in 1916 and the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons at Westminster, she had a darker side as a mother. Eva an activist suffragist responsible for Churchill’s defeat was also a famous poet. Both sisters were Yeats’ friends who visited the house in his youth and who also wrote a poem dedicated to the famous sisters.
“The light of evening, Lissadell
Great windows open to the south
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle. …
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.”
But the tour is not just about the Gore-Booth sisters, you will learn more about the Butler. I will not tell you more because I want you to go and listen to all those wonderful stories from other times.
Outside the house you can enjoy the colourful gardens and the surrounding area.