Sligo Things to Do
Sligo, Ireland will always be associated with W. B. Yeats, but there are many other things to do even for non-literary visitors.
W. B. Yeats
Although William Butler Yeats was never a resident of the town, he did spend many happy summer vacations in Sligo visiting his grandfather, and the area made quite an impression on the poet. Yeats chose to be buried close by in Drumcliff. Visitors can make the short journey to his grave at the Church of Ireland cemetry.
At Hyde Bridge visitors can find the Yeats Memorial Building where volunteers work to promote the works of Yeats. Each year, the Yeats Society runs a summer program intensive covering the work of Yeats. Lectures are also given throughout the year. The Yeats Memorial Building also hosts the local art gallery.
Across the Garavogue River from the Yeats Memorial Building, is a sculpture of Yeats by Rowan Gillespie, who installed it in 1989 to mark the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death. The sculpture’s tall, thin portrayal of Yeats makes it a popular place to take a selfie.
Visitors who are intrigued by architecture will have a wonderful experience just wandering along the streets of Sligo.
The Sligo Abbey dates back to the 13th century. Although the abbey was rebuilt multiple times throughout the years, there are still many examples of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures. The High Altar of the abbey was constructed in the 15th century, and it is said to be the only one of its kind in Ireland.
A quick drive from Sligo is Parkes Castle. This 17th century castle was built on the shore of Lough Gill by Rober Parkes. The castle was partial restored, and offers daily tours.
Although not as old as other buildings, the courthouse on Teeling Street was designed by J. Rawson Carroll, the same person who designed Classiebawn Castle at Mullaghmore, the former holiday residence of Lord Mountbatten. The courthouse stands on the site of the former courthouse and gaol, and the foundation of a few of the cells of the old gaol are still visible.
Benbulben Mountain, or Table Mountain, greatly inspired young Yeats. This majestic mountain is located a few miles north of Sligo, and plays a large role in many Celtic tales. Visitors can attempt to climb Benbulben Mountain, but the climb is difficult and can become dangerous in high winds.
On the very top of Knocknarea Mountain, just south of Sligo, is Maeve’s Cairn, a legendary Neolithic grave of a former queen of Connaught. Many tourists make the two-hour hike up Knocknarea in the pre-dawn darkness to catch the sunrise from the top.
Dooney Rock along the Lough Gill offers nature lovers an enchanting escape into Irish countryside. The area was a favorite of Yeats who wrote of the area in “The Fiddler of Dooney“.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Sligo.