Places to visit in Sligo

There is a new and palpable vibrancy abounding in county Sligo, energy forces are collaborating and merging towards a common vision. There is a wonderful interconnectedness, quiet pride and collective positivity. It is an exciting time to be engaged with the people and considerable resources of Sligo, who offer a warm welcome, sage advice and truly valued assistance.

Tour of Sligo's Castles

Sligo has over 30 sites with names which include the word ‘castle’, 8 of which are in private hands and are well preserved and documented. Of the rest, although they lie in ruins, about a dozen are worth searching out, as they have either substantial remains or interesting associations. Sadly the rest have long since decayed to rubble, their valuable stone having been taken long ago to construct bridges or other buildings. I say ‘search out’ because unless you know where to look, some are hard to find, which is a shame. Just a few more signposts (and information boards at the sites themselves) would enable many more people to enjoy this part of Sligo’s heritage.

A good starting point is Ballymote Castle, right in the heart of the county, one of the easiest to find as it is situated in a public park next to the railway station. Here are the imposing remains of a fortified and originally moated castle built by Richard de Burgo, the ‘Red’ Earl of Ulster, in 1300. Its walls are 3m thick with 1m passages inside, and it had 6 towers, a 46m square courtyard and large accommodation areas on the north side. The castle changed hands many times – the English, Rory O’Connor, Sir Richard Bingham and the O’Rourkes all holding it at different times, but it came back into the possession of the McDonaghs time and again and it was they who sold it to the O’Donnell clan in 1598 for the sum of £400 and 300 cows. It was from this spot that Hugh Roe O’Donnell set out on his ill-fated march to Kinsale in 1601. An information board is displayed at the ruined gateway to the castle. Location: N 54° 01·566’W 008° 20·139’.

From here, drive south to Gurteen, and join the R294 Ballina–Boyle road for 5km (towards Boyle) to Mullaghroe. 50m before the sign ‘Monastarden 6’, turn left onto a minor, unmarked road, and after about 1km, on rising ground ahead lie the extensive ruins of Moygara Castle, which is in a relatively good state of preservation. It was an ancient stronghold of the O’Garas, princess of Coolavin, and in its time was one of the best examples of a castellated building in Sligo. About 57m square, with a battlemented 12m high tower at each corner and 1 in the centre of both east and west walls, it must have been impressive. The walls were loopholed for firearms, and there was extensive accommodation on the western side, although the portcullis sadly no longer remains on this wall. In 1581 it was burned by the Governor of Connacht. A sycamore tree in the south eastern corner of the castle is said to be the shoot of one on which O’Gara hanged miscreants. The castle is surrounded by pasture land, but farm lanes extend around almost all four sides. Location: N 53° 58·821’W 008° 27·850’. From here, continue towards Boyle, 10km away, and take the N4 Sligo road in the direction of Sligo, which crosses the Curlew Mountains. At the foot of the descending slope, turn right into the village of Ballinafad, and park in the castle grounds. The four towers of Ballinafad Castle are clearly visible on a mound overlooking the village and the main road. This is to do with birds – curlew comes from the words meaning ‘rough mountains’ and the castle was indeed built to command the pass over the Curlew Mountains. Location: N 54° 01·566’W 008° Rejoining the N4, continue towards Sligo, and travel about 7km to the village of Castlebaldwin, and turn right onto a minor road. At the first junction, take a lane to the right, which encircles the site of Castle Baldwin and eventually rejoins the N4. The castle here was an L-shaped fortified house built in 1650 which subsequently belonged to Edward Nicholson, High Sheriff of Sligo. It was constructed after the traditional 'castle' had gone out of fashion and fortified houses were the style, but along with its high gables, chimney stacks and basement it had gun loops flanking the fireplace and a walkway at roof level – so defence was still very much in mind! An information board has been erected by Duchas about 300 metres from the front of the castle ruin. Location: N 54° 04·746’ W 008° 21·980’.

Our next stop is Moymlough Castle (pronounced 'Meemlagh'). To reach this site, continue on the N4 to Collooney, turn left at the second roundabout, and almost immediately right to bypass the town. Cross the river and then take the first left, signposted ‘Coolaney 8’. 1km onwards, the road crosses the disused railway line and after another 2km turn left, re-cross the railway line and traverse an S-shaped bridge over the river. After 1.5km the ivy-covered ruin of Moymlough Castle comes into view. Another tower house, it replaced the ancient castle of the O’Hara’s built in the 15th century. Although only 3 storeys remain, it was probably higher and measured 9.4m by 5.5m. Features which can clearly be seen from the road are the intramural staircase and the distinct ‘batter’ to the lower two metres of the outer walls. Part of a garderobe is also visible. Moymlough continued to be one of the strongholds of the O’Hara Buidhe, the lords of Leyney. Sadly its sister castle at Coolaney has entirely disappeared, having been recycled to build the new bridge in 1833. Location: N 54° 10·334’ W 008° 33·806’.

Proceed for 0.5km and turn right to Coolaney village, cross the aforementioned bridge, and continue over the Hungry Rock pass to join the Sligo–Ballina N59 near Beltra, then turn left to Skreen. Take the right turn signposted ‘Dunmoran’ for 1.5km, then right over a small bridge and uphill, passing a sign for Dunmoran Strand. At the first junction over the hill, turn right. The ruin of Ardnaglass Castle stands about 200 metres along this road, in a field on the left. Ardnaglass was one of the many castles of the O’Dowds, lords of Tireragh. It is said that the last wild wolf in Ireland was killed by a wolfhound belonging to the O’Dowds. A stone carving commemorating this event was inserted into the castle wall, but is now in the museum of the Royal Academy of Ireland. Location: N54° 15·322’W 008° 42·436’. The McFirbis family, historians and bards to generations of the O’Dowds, lived at Kilglass near Enniscrone and wrote The Yellow Book of Lecan there. A plaque there commemorates them and their manuscript, which is in the care of the Royal Irish Academy – a nice memorial, and one which all Sligo’s heritage sites deserve!

 

Sligo

Ballinafad Castle

Contact: catriona@osd.ie

Phone number: 071 9160201

Address: Ballinafad, Co. Sligo

www.ballinafad.com

 

Glenveagh National Park

Contact: glenveaghbookings@ahg.gov.ie

Phone number: 076 1002537

Address: Letterkenny, Co. Sligo

www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie

 

Markree Castle

Contact: info@markreecastle.ie

Phone number: 071 9167800

Address: Collooney, Co. Sligo

www.markreecastle.ie

 

Sligo Folk Park

Contact: sligofolkpark@eircom.net

Phone number: 071 9165001

Address: Riverstown

www.sligofolkpark.com

 

Dominican Friary

Contact: info@archiseek.com

Phone number: 071 9142700

Contact: Ballinful, Co. Sligo

www.archiseek.com

 

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Contact: carrowmoretomb@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9161534

Address: Carrowmore, Co. Sligo

www.heritageireland.ie/en/north-west/carrowmoremegalithiccemetery/

 

Carrowkeel Passage Tombs

Contact: jim@megalithicireland.com

Address: Castlebaldwin

www.megalithicireland.com

 

Creevykeel Court Tomb

Contact: jim@megalithicireland.com

Address: Clifoney

www.megalithicireland.com

 

Tour of Sligo's Castles

Parke's Castle

Contact: parkescastle@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9164149

Address: Kilmore, Fivemilebourne, Co. Leitrim

 

Boyle Abbey

Contact: boyleabbey@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9662604

Address: Boyle, Co. Roscommon

 

Caves and Cairns at Keash

Phone number: 087 6730940

Address: Cloonagh, Co. Sligo

Donegal

Donegal County Museum

Contact: museum@donegalcoco.ie

Phone number: 074 9124613

Address: High Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

www.donegalcoco.ie/culture/countymuseum/

Fermanagh

Marble Arch Caves

Contact: info@marblearchcavesgeopark.com

Phone number: 048 66348855

Address: 43 Marlbank Rd, Legnabrocky, Florencecourt Co. Femanagh, Northern Ireland

www.marblearchcavesgeopark.com

Leitrim

Fenagh Abbey

Contact: fenaghvisitorcentre@gmail.com

Phone number: 071 9645590

Address: Carrick-on-Shannon to Fenagh Road

www.fenagh.com

 

Parke's Castle

Contact: parkescastle@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9164149

Address: Kilmore, Fivemilebourne, Co. Leitrim

 

The Hazelwood Estate

Address: Lough Gill, Co. Sligo

Mayo

Ballintubber Abbey

Contact: info@ballintubberabbey.ie

Phone number: 094 9030934

Address: Ballintubber, Claremorris, Co. Mayo

www.ballintubberabbey.ie

 

Ceide Fields

Contact: information@ceidefields.com

Phone number: 096 43325

Address: Ballycastle, Co. Mayo

www.ceidefields.com

 

Foxford Wollen Mills

Phone number: 094 9256794

Address: Foxford, Co. Mayo

 

Mayo Abbey

Phone number: 094 9365987

Address: Balla, Co. Mayo

Roscommon

Arigna Mining experience

Contact: tours@arignaminingexperience.ie

Phone number: 071 9646466

Address: Arigna, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co.Roscommon

www.arignaminingexperience.ie

 

County Museum

Phone number: 090 6625613

Address: Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon

The Yeats Society

Contact: Martin Enright, info@yeatssociety.com

Phone number: 091 42693

Address: Douglas Hyde Bridge, Sligo

www.yeatssociety.com

 

Glebe House and Gallery

Contact: glebegallery@opw.ie

Phone number: 074 9137071

Address: Churchill, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

glebegallery.ie

 

Sligo Abbey

Contact: sligotownwebsite@gmail.com

Phone number: 071 9146406

Address: Wine Street, Sligo

www.sligotown.net

 

Streedagh & the Spanish Armada

Contact: info@seatrails.ie

Phone number: 087 2405071

Address: Ash Lane, Co. Sligo

www.seatrails.ie

 

Eagles Flying

Contact: eagles.flying@hotmail.com

Phone number: 071 9189310

Address: Ballymote, Co. Sligo

www.eaglesflying.com

 

Newmills Corn & Flax Mills

Contact: newmills@opw.ie

Phone number: 074 9125115

Address: Churchill Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

www.heritageireland.ie/en/north-west/newmillscornandflaxmills/

 

Saint Patricks Purgatory Lough Derg

Phone number: 071 9861518

Address: Pettigo, Co. Donegal

www.loughderg.org

 

Giant's Griddle

Address: Tawnatruffaun

www.carrowkeel.com

 

Sligo Abbey

Contact: sligoabbey@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9146406

Address: Abbey St., Sligo, Co. Sligo

 

O'Dowd Castle

Phone number: 096 49020

Address: Sligo, Co. Sligo

 

Knocknarea Tomb

Address: Sligo, Co. Sligo

 

 

Donegal Castle

Contact: donegalcastle@opw.ie

Phone number: 074 9722405

Address: Castle Street, Donegal, Co. Donegal

 

Florence Court

Contact: info@fermanaghlakelands.com

Phone number: 048 66348249

Address: Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

www.fermanaghlakelands.com

 

 

Rose of Innisfree Tour Boat

Contact: info@roseofinnisfree.com

Phone number: 071 9164266

Address: Kilmore, Fivemilebourne, Co. Sligo

www.roseofinnisfree.com

 

Manorhamilton Castle

Phone number: 086 2502593 / 071 9855249

Address: Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

www.manorhamiltoncastle.ie

 

Sean McDermotts Cottage

Address: Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim

 

Westport House

Contact: info@westporthouse.ie

Phone number: 098 27766

Address: Westport, Co. Mayo

www.westporthouse.ie

 

Knock Folk Museum

Contact: museum@knock-shrine.ie

Phone number: 094 9388100

Address: Knock, Co. Mayo

 

Old School Museum

Phone number: 094 9030934

Address: Ballintubber, Co. Mayo

 

 

 

 

 

Lough Key & Forest Park

Contact: info@loughkey.ie

Phone number: 071 9673122

Address: Boyle, Co. Roscommon

loughkey.ie

 

Roscommon Abbey

Phone number: 090 6626342

Address: Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon

Secret Gardens Phone number: 086 3375741

 

Donegal Railway Heritage Centre

Contact: donegalrailway@gmail.com

Phone number: 074 9722655

Address: Donegal Town

www.donegalrailway.com

 

Lissadell House

Contact: info@lissadellhouse.com

Phone number: 071 9163150

Address: Ballinful

www.lissadellhouse.com

 

Tobernalt Holy

Contact: carraroe@holywellsligo.com

Phone number: 071 9162136

Address: Well Carraroe

www.holywellsligo.com

 

Secret Gardens of Sligo

Contact: kitchin.rosemary@gmail.com

Phone number: 086 3375741

Address: Sligo

www.secretgardensofsligo.com

 

Inishmurray Monastery

Contact: joemcgowan@sligoheritage.com

Phone number: 087 6674522

Address: Inishmurray Island

www.sligoheritage.com

 

Coleman Centre

Phone number: 071 9182599

Address: Gurteen

www.colemanirishmusic.com

 

Drumcliife, Yeats Grave & Round Tower

Phone number: 071 9144956

Address: Drumcliffe

www.roundtowers.org

 

Ballindoon Friary

Phone number: 071 61201

Address: Lough Arrow - Ballymote

 

 

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Contact: carrowmoretomb@opw.ie

Phone number: 071 9161534

Address: Carrowmore, Sligo, Co. Sligo

 

Carrowkeel

Contact: ogma69@gmail.com

Phone: 071 61201

Address: Castlebaldwin, Co. Sligo

www.carrowkeel.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle Coole

Contact: enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk

Phone number: 048 66322690

Address: Enniskillen, UK

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-coole

 

 

Glenview Folk Museum

Contact: glenviewguesthouse@gmail.com

Phone number: 071 9644157

Address: Aghoo, Ballinamore , Co. Leitrim

www.glenview-house.com/glenview-museum.html

 

Creevelea Abbey

Phone number: 071 61201

Address: Dromahair, Leitrim, Carrick-on-Shannon

 

 

 

 

Strokestown Park House & Famine Museum  

Contact: info@strokestownpark.ie

Phone number: 071 9633013

Address: Strokestown, Co. Mayo

www.trokestownpark.ie

 

Michael Davitt Museum  

Contact: davittmuseum@eircom.net

Phone number: 094 9031022

Address: Straide, Foxford, Co. Mayo

 

Partry House  

Phone number: 094 9543004

Address: Partry, Co. Mayo

 

 

 

 

 

Boyle Abbey

Contact: info@heritageireland.ie

Phone number: 071 9662604

Address: Claremorris, Co. Roscommon

www.heritageireland.ie

 

King House

Phone number: 071 9663242

Address: Boyle, Co. Roscommon