Suzanne Barrett on the beautiful county of Sligo.

This is an article on Co. Sligo by travel writer Suzanne Barrett from


Sligo, along with the counties of Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, and Leitrim, form the province of Connacht. However, when people speak of Ireland's "West," they generally mean the westernmost counties of Galway, Mayo, and Sligo.

Sligo is one of Ireland's smaller counties, guarding the the northwest passage between Connacht and Ulster. Its seafront stretches from the seaside villages of Mullagmore in the north, where once Lord Mountbatten owned a holiday home, to Enniscrone in the west, a resort town with six miles of pristine beaches and long celebrated for its seaweed baths.

The landscape varies from tide-washed strands to rock-faced cliffs, from grassy dunes to caves carved out of the Atlantic. Then there are the mountains: Ben Bulben, a part of the King Mountains, is a great limestone mass facing the sea, ridged in shape like a ship's prow. Its ancient name is Beann Gulban. One of the famous myths from the Ulster cycle called "The Death of Diarmuid in the Boar Hunt" took place here. Knocknarea, a fabled mountain on which Queen Maeve is said to be buried, offers a spectacular view of Sligo Bay and five counties.

Sligo is rich in history with many areas of neolithic remains. The Fairy hill near Cloonacool rises to 900 feet. To the east and near Ballymote, Keshcorran stands at 1100 feet. Diarmuid and Gráinne were said to have taken refuge from the vengeful Fionn mac Cumhail in one of the seventeen caves on its west side. At the foot of Knocknarea is the Carrlowmore cemetery of chamber tombs. An information center for tourists is located nearby.

Other county sights worth noting include Lissadell, the neo-classic "big house" of the Gore-Booth family and the home where Eva and Constance, later Countess Marievicz, grew up. The mansion, under much reduced circumstances, overlooks Drumcliff Bay and is still the home of the Gore-Booth family. In nearby Drumcliff Churchyard one of Ireland's most famous writers, William Butler Yeats, lies buried.

Heading south we come to a small spit of land and Rosses Point which hosts the West of Ireland Championship Golf Course and a safe beach. Here the Garavogue River flows from Lough Gill to Sligo Town and enters the sea between Deadman's Point and Coney Island. Here also stands the Metal Man, much loved by the painter Jack Yeats whose works may be found in the Sligo Municipal Art Gallery in Sligo Town. One of four originally cast by Thomas Kirke in 1819, the statue stands atop a 15 foot limestone base. Dressed in the garb of a Royal navy Petty Officer, He is an impressive sight with right arm outstretched, pointing to the safe deep channel.

Another safe beach lies near Dunmoran. Backed by sand dunes, it provides a scenic contrast to the sheer cliffs of Auris Head. The 18th-century Irish writer, Lady Morgan spent much of her youth at nearby Longford House in Belta.

Near Dromore West stands Carrowmably martello tower with an exceptional view across Donegal Bay.

Atlantic sunsets are a feature of Sligo. During her imprisonment for taking part in the failed Easter Rising, Countess Markievicz said of them: "The sight is sufficiently dramatic over Killala Bay to inspire Enniscrone to call itself 'Enniscrone of the sunsets'."

There is more than burial mounds and beaches, sea and plain. The Ox Mountains cut a swath across the land from northeast to southwest, and from them to the sea the land lies in a gently undulating pattern. Wildflowers dot the meadows in summertime; dog-daisies, purple harebells, and ferns grow in profusion along the roadsides. Inland at Glencar there's an enchanting waterfall, immortalized in verse; horse riding at Grange; boating at Lough Gill, and fishing at Loughs Gara, Arrow, and Templehouse in the south. All these and more make Sligo a perfect spot for adventure, after which you can relax over a pint in one of Sligo's charming pubs.

Pubs and traditional music go hand in hand, and "Sligo Style" traditional fiddle playing, made famous by Michael Coleman, is the ambition of many a young player.

When it comes to shopping, there's no slighting the visitor. Sligo Town boasts some of Ireland's finest foods, gift items, crafts, and gourmet food available. Whatever your taste, sausages, cheeses, taste-tempting breads, fresh from the oven--they're all here in this enchanting market town.

If it's a holiday home you're after then there is none better than Shramore Lodge. A self catering holiday home near Markree Castle, located only 10 minutes from Sligo town, in the heart of Union Wood, this 19th century cottage accommodation is truly a hidden gem in the north west of Ireland. Visit to book your place in this beautiful spot.