Under Ben Bulben: Yeats Country

Every visit to Sligo absolutely thrills the English major in me. I concentrated in Irish literature (super useful in the real world) and spent a ton of time studying W.B. Yeats. Sligo is Yeats country, and his inspiration and words are everywhere.

Whenever we visit Ireland, we try to find a short side trip from Galway, whether it be to Kinsale or Northern Ireland or Rome or Prague. This time we stayed close to home and went up to Sligo to enjoy the inspiring Irish countryside, some spa time, and simple relaxation with my in-laws.

Ben Bulben

We stayed at the Radisson Blu in Sligo, and we absolutely loved it. The above was the view from our room. We have stayed in a few Radisson hotels, including in Edinburgh, and they are always really enjoyable. Like my favorite, the Radisson in Galway, the Sligo property had a lovely spa with a thermal suite, where we spent time unwinding after a long hike.

Our room, a junior suite, was well appointed and included free still and sparkling water, Nespresso, and a crazy big Irish breakfast buffet. The service in the lounge was very, very slow (probably a good thing since we drank less) but overall the staff were great and very friendly.

Radisson Sligo

Sligo town is quaint and offers  lot of Yeats history, along with great pubs and restaurants. Just outside Sligo town lies W.B Yeats in the Drumcliffe Graveyard, his tombstone engraved with the famous words from the poem Under Ben Bulben : Cast a cold Eye On Life on Death Horseman pass by.

Yeats’ grave is outside a regular church, but there is a small craft and book shop and cafe on site. It’s well worth a visit if you are in the region.

Yeats grave


Drumcliffe Church


drumcliffe church yard




And then there’s the natural beauty of Sligo. I haven’t seen the whole world, but I know that Ireland will always be one of its most beautiful places for me.

Rosses Point Sligo is a rugged seaside area where the wind and the waves and rocky cliffs come together to take your breath away.

Rosses Point Sligo   Rosses Point Sligo

Yeats Country

Just a bit further inland, farms dot the landscape as they do in most of Ireland. You may want to smuggle home a new friend or two. . .

sheep in Sligo

And then there’s Ben Bulben. Formed during the Ice Age, Ben Bulben’s crazy shape came from shifting glaciers. I have seen nothing like it. The mountain inspired Yeats, and he mentioned it in both Under Ben Bulben and The Celtic Twilight.

Ben Bulben also plays a big part in Irish legend and history, including in the Irish Civil War.

Ben Bulben

Nowadays Ben Bulben is a spectacular and magical place for a hike. You can’t help but stare it its strange formation and beauty. Even in late November, it was green and lush, dotted with fluffy sheep and surrounded by the cry of howling winds.


Ben Bulben

Ben Bulben Our walk along the base was all we could do; the mountain itself can be treacherous and with the winds we have, we opted not to climb. Our walk showed us all sorts of things though, including lichen and heather and beautiful wild birds.


Ben Bulben walk

walking around Ben Bulben

It was the perfect stretch of the legs after a flight and a big meal at Ashford Castle.

Guinness and soup And there’s nothing better when in Ireland after a long, blustery walk than a pint of Guinness and a bowl of hot soup. The Yeats Country Hotel is cozy and beautiful with views of the sea and a crackling fireplace.  On a cloudy day, all bundled up inside, I struggled to stay awake after lunch.

Yeats Country Hotel

Sligo is no doubt a dreamy place, and it’s easy to imagine the cranky poet and his pen. If you ever go to Ireland, I encourage you to go West. In the meantime I leave you with one of my favorite Yeats poems.

A Drinking Song

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

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Tags: Ben Bulben, County Sligo, Food, hiking, hotels, hotels in Ireland, Ireland, Irish, Irish countryside, Travel, travel advice, travel blogger, travel posts, Yeats

  1. Erica @ InandAroundTown’s avatar

    Sligo looks beautiful! love the photos!


  2. Jenna at Boston Chic Party’s avatar

    The photos look gorgeous! I hope I can visit Ireland sometime soon!


  3. Megan’s avatar

    I really think you need to publish a travel guide. So much great info!


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