I am by no means an expert on Sligo travel. My Ireland trip happened nearly six months ago, and I still find myself struggling to encapsulate the whole Sligo experience. But I dug myself a home there, acquired a family, and fell in love with Ireland harder than I expected. Mostly it was the people that made the magic happen, but those people weren’t hard to find.
Here’s a guide if you’re ever in the ‘hood. Tell them Candice sent you.
Banada & Tubbercurry
These are both smaller villages in Sligo County, where streets are quiet and life is slower paced. Julia and I overnighted in Tubbercurry here before moving on to Sligo town, and quickly made friends with Paul and Sonya at Murphy’s Hotel. They took us out exploring the area, and quickly became some of our dearest Irish friends.
In Banada, the Tapestry of Ties featuring ties from famous people around the globe was created to commemorate the peace process in the North. A museum is currently being built to house the artwork, and other relics from the area. You can also take the Friars’ Walk through a quiet wooded heritage area.
Drive the backcountry. We rarely saw a soul along the way, and especially not any tourists. Lough Talt is worth a stop, as well as Bellneassa Waterfall in the Ox Mountains, Mass Rock, and Lough Easkey.
Eat & Drink:
Killoran’s Irish Pub and Museum is a clutter of historical memorabilia run by Mrs. Killoran for over 50 years. Shoes and handbags hang from the ceiling, including some football cleats from GAA player Mickey Kerins. Each item has a story, and Mrs. Killoran is the person to tell them. Ask for a plate of her treacle scones with jam.
For a tipple, pop into Nathy Brennan’s pub just up the street from Killoran’s. Wood fire stoves and pints of Guinness. The thatch-roofed Beach Bar in Aughris makes for a killer ocean view with your drink as well.
Murphy’s Hotel is a must. Be sure to give Paul a high-five for me.
Teeling St, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Ireland
+353 71 918 5598
Strandhill is where surf culture explodes in Ireland, and when I make it back to Sligo, I want to set up shop here for awhile. Perhaps start a writers’ colony. Who knows? You might be surprised to know that Ireland’s northern shore has some of the biggest waves in Europe. As a result: great nightlife, great beaches, and lots of young people. (Ladies, this does mean really fit Irish surfers. Ahem.)
Surf! If you’re a novice, there are a handful of surf schools willing to teach, and you don’t typically have to worry about sharks. I didn’t get this opportunity. It was April, and I was cold frequently.
Not far from Strandhill Beach is Queen Maeve’s Grave atop Knocknarea hill. At the summit you’ll find a huge cairn of loose stones, and although it hasn’t been excavated, it’s believed to contain a Neolithic passage tomb. Remember to bring a stone from the bottom to the top of the cairn. This was one of my favourite hikes; two Irish lads packed us a picnic and we sat in a concealed grassy corner of the hill overlooking the ocean and Strandhill Beach.
Along the way, walk through the Faerie Glen. Along the side of Knocknarea, you’ll pass through a gate and enter a small enclosure of hanging ivy draped over stone walls, vivid purples and greens, and tall trees sitting in blankets of moss. No, a faerie named Glen does not live here. My bad.
Eat & Drink:
The Strand is the local pub which hosts live music every weekend. They also serve pub grub, but you’ll find a more posh traditional restaurant upstairs named Trà Bàn, as well as Jade Garden.
Shell’s Café along the beachfront was my fave spot for grub: organic foodstuffs at affordable prices, and a place loved dearly by the locals. I had the eggs benedict. You should too.
Strandhill Lodge and Suites. Quiet, clean, and overlooking the beach. Fun moment: I woke up sleepwalking and locked myself out of the room, and then scared the bejesus out of the man at the front desk when I appeared by his side suddenly.
My experience here was short, but I stayed at the Down Yonder B&B with the O’Hara family who treated me like their own child. I spent one full day here in bed just recuperating from all the Sligo shenanigans. Plus the house is a collection of antiques and worldly dressings collected by owner Eavan O’Hara.
Go there for a quiet retreat.
089 210 3639
+353 89 210 3639
My favourite little pocket of Ireland: Sligo town! If you know me, you’ve heard me rant and rave. My first night in town, I was immediately swept up by the local music scene and adopted into the family. Win the locals over with shots of Baby Guinness.
Another highlight of my trip: stand up paddling with SUP for all. There’s poetry to be found in paddling down the River Bonet to the Isle of Innisfree while wearing an afro alpaca hat and a sexy dry suit. David O’Hara is your man for this trip, and if you’re lucky, he’ll bring along a few handsome paddlers to join the journey. Ask David to take you to The Thatch pub afterwards.
Hike Benbulben. I didn’t get to do this, so do it for me. It’s a part of the Dartry Mountains, and its flattop surface with a knife-sharp cliff face dominates much of Sligo’s landscape.
Oh man. Where to begin.
Up until Sligo, I hadn’t been overly impressed by Ireland’s food scene. One evening, I sat down at a restaurant in Waterford, vying for some leafy greens and colourful veggies. I ordered what I felt sounded promising: a cabbage and bacon dish. I imagined a sort of salad with bacon bits on top. I ended up with a cabbage-like creamy soup, with thick slabs of ham floating in the mixture.
But Sligo gave me the nourishment I needed. A restaurant of note: The Glasshouse Hotel’s restaurant. I’m going to be doing more in-depth review of this place later, but they’re traditional-meets-gourmet. They were also super accommodating about Julia’s vegan needs, which is no easy feat in Ireland!
The nightlife deserves its own section, because it’s busy for such a small town. I spent most of my time at Tricky’s McGarrigles, where live music HAS to happen. This place basically became my second home. The owner (Tricky) is the kind of person who skydives naked into Burning Man, and the clientele is one big happy family. Keep an eye out for the Rackhouse Pilfers, and you HAVE to attend Sunday night MASS (Mad Acoustic Sunday Session). Some of the most fun nights out in Ireland.
You can find Irish trad at venues like Shoot the Crow, and if you’re in a dancing mood, Toffs Nightclub is pretty much always open.
Make some friends. They won’t lead you astray.
I bummed around a fair bit here, but I also stayed at The Glasshouse Hotel: a modern building of windows with an interior that is crazy incongruent to its surroundings. A lime green room with big plush beds? Heck yes.
Swan Point, Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
Phone:+353 71 919 4300
Questions about Sligo? Lemme know. I’ll do my best.