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