With the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann starting this Sunday I thought I’d do a list of things to do for visitors coming to Sligo. I’m not going to mention the Fleadh events because you will all know about those but these are ones that visitors might not know about. All are my personal recommendations and they are in no particular order. I haven’t mention the pubs and shops because you can check those out for yourself. Grab a coffee and have a read because this should be a book rather than a list!
1. To the Waters and the Wild.
Here in Sligo we have the sea, a river and a lake all within a 15 minute walk of each other so why not take to the water. You can get a boat tour of Lough Gill and visit the islands including the Isle of Innisfree (made famous by the poet W. B. Yeats). If you want a completely zen experience you can try stand up paddling with SUP for all and paddle over to the island. For the more adventurous you can leap into the Atlantic or swim amongst the sea life with Wave Sweeper. You can also try kayaking on beautiful Lough Talt with Wild Wet Adventures.
2. Eat, Drink and be Merry.
There are a whole host of wonderful restaurants and cafes in Sligo. Osta do amazing pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, great cakes, filling sandwiches and lunches – yum! Hearts Desire have a lunch special every day and fab hot chocolate and coffee. Cafe Fleur have a great selection of wraps, all freshly made to order. Knox have some fab cakes and I’m told their lunches are good too. For vegetarians and vegans there is Sweet Beat. Eala Bhan serve wonderful lunches and dinners, and for the fleadh they have gourmet Irish beef burgers served with a choice of fillings. Kate’s Kitchen have lovely salads and wraps. The very talented Berenice Cooks is running her popular supper clubs during the Fleadh, these are a great way to have a fantastic meal and also to meet people, I love the sound of the Irish night.
3. Go to the seaside:
Just a short drive out of Sligo is the seaside town of Mullaghmore. Take a scenic drive or walk around the coast and see the breathtaking Classiebawn Castle. Have lunch in the award-winning seafood restaurant Eithna’s by the Sea with its fabulous food and amazing artwork on the exterior of the building. Go coasteering, kayaking or snorkelling and have the time of your life. Walk along the beautiful clean beach, go paddling, fishing and more. Visit the beautiful garden at the Star of the Sea. After you’ve seen all Mullaghmore has to offer take a drive around the Gleniff Horseshoe, it’s a magical place. Cliffony is the place to be after all that exploring, Harrison’s bar and restaurant serve wonderful food and why not follow it with a pint in O’Donnells Bar – check out the white horses on their wall.
Walk along miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Take a surfing lesson with North West Surf School. Go stand up paddling in the Wild Atlantic Way with Harbour Sup ‘N’ Sail. Have a game of crazy golf. Go for a hot water seaweed bath at Kilgallen’s. Or go swimming in Waterpoint. Be sure to drive along the coast road to get to Enniscrone and stop off at Easkey and Aughris.
Visit Strandhill: A buzzing village just outside Sligo town. You can walk up Knocknarea, have a seaweed bath in Voya, breakfast at Shells, surfing with Strandhill Surf School and dinner at award-winning restaurant Tra Ban. If you fancy something different you can have a flying lesson at Sligo airport. Visit a traditional thatched cottage – Dolly’s Cottage is open every afternoon during the fleadh – you might even get your tea leaves read. Go and see Carrowmore Tombs and find out all about largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland.
4. Talk to the animals.
Spend a few hours at Eagles Flying where the birds fly right over your head! This is a must do for all the family. There are not just birds of prey here but also a whole host of animals for you to meet. Woodville Farm is a brilliant working farm that’s well worth a visit. There’s Merlin Wildlife centre, a haven for wildlife, bring a picnic and spend an afternoon there. If you love donkeys (and who doesn’t) pay a visit to the Sathya Sai Donkey Sanctuary located in the stunning Bricklieve Mountains, be sure to bring ginger nuts and carrots and you’ll have friends for life.
5. See Sligo from horse back. You can visit Island View Riding Stables and have a trek along the beach overlooked by Benbulben. At Markree Riding Stables you can ride alongside a castle and trek into a forest. Both stables cater for all levels and ages.
6. Go to the markets. There are a few markets on during the Fleadh. On Saturday there are the Sligo Farmers Market at the IT, the Rathcormac food and craft market from 10am – 3pm, Beltra Country Market from 10am – 12.30pm on the 14th of August Beltra are having an International day and would love visitors from overseas to call in. On Sunday the Strandhill people’s market is on from 11am – 4pm at Sligo airport. All the markets are the perfect places to pick up gifts and try some fabulous food.
7. Get arty. There are various art galleries and artists in and around Sligo town. Check out The Model, Magnetism at Hazelwood, The Hyde Bridge Gallery, The Hamilton Gallery, Teach Ban Drumcliffe and my own exhibition at the Hawk’s Well Theatre Sligo (shameless plug!) Why not try your hand at making something yourself. Visit Michael Budd, blacksmith and sculptor, where you can try your hand at being a blacksmith for an hour. Tiffany Budd, goldsmith, runs jewellery making classes, so why not make something special. There are also artists you can call in and visit, be sure to see Michael Quirke, the wood-carver – he will tell you all about the Sligo myths and legends. Made in Sligo have a craft trail where you can visit artists at work. The Fairgreen, Creative & Culinary Centre, located on the N59 have a great gallery and fabulous cafe so well worth a visit.
8. Get on your bike. No bike? No problem! Check out Wild Atlantic Ways where you can hire a bike and take off and explore to your heart’s content. You can also explore the grounds of Lissadell House by bike with Lissadell Adventures. Why not pop into the house and gardens while you are there.
9. Step back in time. Visit the Tubbercurry Old Fair Day and have a glimpse at how life in Ireland used to be. There’s live music, lots of activities and plenty of stalls, crafts and entertainers and it’s free. Check out their page for more.
10. Go for a spa treatment. Ciúnas Spa at Cromleach Lodge is wonderful, they even have a jacuzzi outside so you can relax and take in the stunning views over Lough Arrow and Carrowkeel. If you have time while you are there have dinner in Moira’s restaurant, go for a walk to the Labby Rock and do check out Carrowkeel megalithic cemetery. The Radisson Blu Hotel and the Yeats Country Hotel also have fabulous spas that are well worth checking out, while you are there Rosses Point is another beautiful Sligo beach with some great walks and if you know your birdies from your bogeys County Sligo Golf Club is located there too.
10 ½. Go walking. There are so many different walks in Sligo for all levels of fitness and abilities check Sligo Walks for more details. The Sligo town walk is free and leaves the Sligo Tourist Office twice a day – check with them for times. Seatrails run guided walks in County Sligo, you will hear the history from a maritime archeologist. Go walking up the Caves of Keash and check out the village and also nearby Ballymote Castle.
This turned out to be a very long list! Hopefully all the visitors will enjoy Sligo and the Fleadh, do come back and visit us again soon.