Sligo is one of the largest towns in the Northwest, a lively market town and centre for music, pubs and eating places designed more for its own 18,000 inhabitants than for tourists. Colourful houses stand alongside the River Garavogue, and the town still has many old quarters and shops of great character. Its literary associations give it a cultural cachet and it now receives a great annual influx of scholars and students on the Yeats trail, especially during August, when a Yeats summer school is held.
Outside the town loom the great hulks of Benbulbin (525m) and Knocknarea (330m), like up-turned ships. Benbulbin is the legendary deat-site of Diarmuid, who eloped with Grainne, and Knocknarea the supposed burial site of Queen Maeve. Both hills may be climbed, but can be treacherous when the mist comes down.
This area is called ‘Yeats Country’ as the poet passed much of his childhood and was eventually buried here, though his adult life was largely spent in Dublin, and in Galway at Thoor Ballylee or at Coole Park. Off the N15 north of Sligo, Yeat’s tomb lies in Drumcliff churchyard. Further up the same road, follow the coastal turning to Lissadell House, 19th-century home of the Gore-Booth family. Sisters Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markiewicz, friends of Yeats, took part in the Easter Rising. The house, in need of restoration, is surrounded by rampant vegetation.
Visit Sligo on your tour of Ireland with Ireland Luxury Tours