As far as many visitors are concerned County Sligo isn't the most dazzling of the Emerald isle's counties, but this small northwestern county is surprisingly packed with cultural treasures, spectacular scenery, Irish traditions and mythology, and poetry. Our pick of the best places to stay in County Sligo is ideally situated to explore the best of the region.
If you do know anything about County Sligo it's probably through the poetry of WB Yeats, a local lad, and ardent lover of this landscape and its mysticism.
Sligo - especially the area around Sligo town - was muse for Yeats and features in his poetry. Reading his work while you're visiting Sligo will hopefully lend you a special insight into this place.
Yeats was a fan of the impressive megalithic cemetery at Carrowmore, which is between Sligo town and the mountain of Knocknarea. Carrowmore is one of Europe's largest Iron Age cemeteries, with around 60 tombs and monuments, and passages burrowing into the hills behind.
Knocknarea is worth visiting too, and possibly scaling. A 300metre monolith, it's also worth reading up on. Supposedly the last resting place of Queen Maeve, there are all sorts of romantic tales and traditions associated with the mountain.
Yeats also spent a lot of time gazing on Innisfree Island, which sits in serenely majestic Lough Gill. And at Dooney Rock, on the southern shore of the lough.
The poet is buried in Drumcliffe, north of Sligo town. And best remembered in the WB Yeats Exhibition at the Sligo Art Gallery - or in front of the abstract statue of Yeats erected in front of the Ulster Bank, a building which he apparently admired.
Another Yeats, his brother, artist Jack, who was also inspired by this countyside, is appreciated in the Model, a gallery and arts centre.
As well as being fertile soil for poets, Sligo is also famous for its traditional music scene. Westlife and Dervish sprang from this county too.
In addition to the cultural and atmospheric treasures of Sligo, and of course the beautiful landscape, this is also a well known spot for surfers. Strandhill beach and Rosses Point offer especially bracing surfing opportunities.
Ballymote, County Sligo
Georgian mansion turned luxury B&B just south of Sligo. Sumptous rooms are crammed with antique furniture and family heirlooms and dining is grand to say the least! Set in gorgeous parkland with a lake for keen fishermen and miles of walking on the doorstep. An idyllic country retreat.
Riverstown, County Sligo
A luxurious family owned country house hotel offering a complete "getaway from it all" experience. Traditional antique furnished bedrooms have magnificent views & log fires but no TVs or radios. Delicious food with much of the ingredients either locally sourced or home grown.