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10 Fun Eco Friendly Things To Do In Sligo

June 16, 2014

Sligo Beach & Mountains

We’ve lived here for 15 years but had never made it as far north as Sligo, a county in the north-west of Ireland that’s doing it’s best to tick the boxes and encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism. However, having now seen the beautiful coastline, the striking mountain range and the passion of the people who are proud to live in this historic county, it won’t be the last time.

Vegetable Soup & Connacht GoldCounty Sligo, (home of Connacht Gold, a company that has over 1,000 diary farmers supplying them with milk), and just one of several counties marked on the Wild Atlantic Way, offers lots of activities that cater for all ages, abilities and budgets with a more eco conscious ethos.

Whether you’re looking for some adventure or quieter meals and walks there are lots in Sligo to keep you occupied.

10 Fun Things To Do in Sligo

1. Sea Trails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson, a qualified maritime archaeologist, is a font of local, historical, maritime knowledge which she’ll happily share with you in various ways. From prehistoric walks to more rugged treks, you’ll find yourself swept away and more interested in Irish history than you might possibly have imagined. Auriel accompanied us on the horseriding trip, sharing tales of three ships from the Spanish Armada that were wrecked on Streedagh Beach.

It’s one thing learning about this historical invasion in school text books, quite another when you can picture the scene in front of you. She also takes local groups out on regular beach clean ups, something that’s becoming more necessary as the big storms sweep ocean litter up onto the beaches.Take a look at seatrails.ie for more information on the variety of interesting tours available.

Damien Brennan2. The Yeats Experience

I covered the Yeats Experience in another blog post but this unusual dinner party encompasses so much of the what defines the responsible traveller.

Damien manages to weave art, history and poetry alongside the natural beauty of the surrounding hills and lough, while his wife Paula and her helpers, present guests with locally sourced, home cooked food.

3. Walking Tour of Sligo Town

Walking Tour of Sligo With our Guide NiamhSligo tourist office can give visitors with a signposted walking tour map of Sligo that points out all the interesting parts of the town itself.

If you’re visiting during the summer months however, I’d urge you to take a two-hour walk with Niambh (the time flies by) who will open your eyes to the trouble and strife the town faced during the days of the cholera epidemic in the 1800’s.

She might also regale you with tales of what might have inspired Bram Stoker to write the scary Dracula story he’s famous for. The tours leave daily from the Tourist Office. See here for more details.

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

4. Horse Riding on Sligo Beach

If you like horses, a trip to the family run Island View Riding Stables in Grange is a heavenly treat. With horses, ponies, guides and instructors available to cater for all experiences, as well as hats, boots and chaps, the stable will make sure everyone on the ride gets a taste of what they’re expecting.

From a slow, gentle walk, to a more bouncy trot or a hearty canter along the sandy beach, you’ll be well looked after. Island View offer a range of riding experiences, from half hour rides to B&B Holidays. For more information take a look at their website here.

Lough Gill, Sligo

5. Stand Up Paddling & Guided Canoe Tours

Stand Up Paddling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and if you fancy your chances of balancing on the loughs, it’s available in Sligo from the Perfect Day SUP School.

Everywhere we went people were recommending we try this unusual form of travel but time didn’t let on this occasion. I don’t think I’ll be trying the yoga poses pictured in some of the literature but a gentle paddle sounds tempting. For those of you who prefer a more relaxed time on the water, Adventure Gently offer guided tours in Canadian canoes that might be more to your liking.

6. Seaweed Foraging

If you want to use seaweed in your kitchen or garden it’s essential that you harvest it sustainably and just like hedgerow foraging, it helps to know what you’re picking. As a life long seaweed forager, Prannie Rhatigan is a real expert in this field. Keep an eye out for her workshops. From the brief time we spent with Prannie, I can guarantee you’ll come home armed with enough information that you’ll want to cook with seaweed as much as possible.

Seaweed Foraging

7. Seaweed Baths

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity, the Seaweed Baths in Strandhill might be for you. Luxuriate in the healing waters and feel all your troubles drift away as the essential oils are released. Afterwards you might like to pop next door into the award-winning Shells Seaside Bakery, Shop & Cafe for a delicious juice or a slice of home-made cake..

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surfing – photo credit Val Robus

8. Surfing on the Atlantic coast

Sligo is apparently the 4th best location IN THE WORLD for big surfing waves and has one of the most consistent swells in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner or a fan of the giant waves, there are several kite surfing or general surfing schools dotted around the Sligo coastline, or just bring a board and find out where all the locals are surfing. For more information check out the Sligo tourism page.

Pranie's Guide To Edible Seaweed9. Relaxing on a Green Coast Beach

Sligo boasts five Green Coast Beaches and they really do live up to their awards. Unspoilt and scenic, they’re the perfect place to spend some time if you’re looking for a beach that’s not surrounded by chip shops and souvenir shops. Bring a picnic and grab a copy of Prannie’s seaweed guide as these are the places you can carefully harvest seaweed for a home bathing or cooking experience.

Flowers in Sligo10. Secret Gardens of Sligo

There are several hidden gardens nestled in Sligo from large to small, privately owned and open to the public on various dates throughout the year to raise funds for various charities. There’s no admission charge but all donations greatly appreciated. Take a look at the Secret Gardens of Sligo website for more information.

Where to stay in Sligo

From Dublin you can pick up a train or bus that will take you directly there, but from Carlow or Kilkenny it isn’t the easiest place to travel to.. It would have several taxi, bus and train changes to get us there, so I car shared with Susan from Vibrant Ireland for this trip.

The Wine BuffWe stayed in the very groovy 4 star Glasshouse Hotel in the centre of Sligo town, which meant we were within walking distance of local shops, restaurants and bars.

Notable were Donaghy’s, famed for their chicken wings among other dishes, Osta Cafe & Wine Bar who can serve you up a tasty tapas on the riverfront, and the very helpful Wine Buff who can recommend exactly what wine’s to taste with which cheese, handy if you’re self catering.

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

 If visitors haven’t done their homework, they might be in for a surprise when they walk into the family owned but very contemporary designed Glasshouse hotel, unlike any other I’ve stayed in! I had a peek online before we traveled and loved my orange room with river views, smart television and family sized bed. The rooms were spotless, the service friendly and the car park free for residents.

Eithnas By The SeaWhere to eat in Sligo

If you visit Sligo during a festival, it’s likely you’ll be able to choose from over 25 local food establishments that take part in the Food Trail, with each one offering a signature dish for just five euro.

Outside of the town we dinned in Eithna’s By The Sea, a delightful seafood restaurant in Mullaghmore, where we sampled the delicious tasting menu, with plates piled high with locally sourced lobster and mussels, seaweed salads and king prawns.

I hope that’s given you a flavour of some of the things you might experience if you have the opportunity to spend a few days in Sligo. If you have any other tips about places to see or visit there, please leave them in the comments below as I’m looking forward to returning sometime soon with my family and it’s great to hear about places you may have been.

Finally, if you’d like to read more about some of the things Sligo has to offer, check out magnumlady.com blog for some great insight and photos.

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Connaght Gold who want to share and shout out about all the lovely things their County has to offer. The fact that the trip was sponsored has in no way influenced anything I’ve written, as the one thing I hope you’ve come to expect from my blog is honesty and transparency. See here for my full disclosure policy. 

Travel

Food Festivals, Foraging and Fun to be had in Sligo!

May 31, 2014

One of the drawbacks of being a vegetable grower is that since we began growing our own food, we rarely get to take breaks away together. Partly perhaps, because we don’t want to leave the vegetables we’ve carefully natured over the past few months, but also finding minders for our chickens, pigs, dogs and cats for more than one night can be difficult.

Strandhill, Sligo

Photo Credit: Val Rubus – Strandhill, Sligo

Thankfully, living on an island means that’s not too much of a problem. In four hours we can be standing at the water’s edge of Donegal or in under an hour walking in the Wicklow mountains. We may not be guaranteed weeks of blue skies, but we’ve fantastic scenery, superb food, wildlife, big seas, star filled skies, friendship, fun, faeries and festivals every weekend, all on hand to entertain, unwind and help us relax.

Holidays in Ireland

My first trip to Ireland and the one that sowed the seed to up anchor and move all my worldly goods here, was spent as a pillion passenger on a large motorbike. I shared my perch with the driver (naturally) a tent, sleeping bags and enough camping gear to make sure we stayed dry and comfortable. We travelled across the southern half of the country from Tipperary to Cork, Kerry and back to Dublin again. We found caves and mountains, hot warm dinners and wet windy roads and I spent hours on the back of the bike in a world of my own, lost with desire to spend more time here.

My second trip many years later involved landing at Dublin airport with a friend and a backpack, climbing onto a bus destined to Galway, and spending most of the week sleeping in hostels and exploring all the lively pubs that we were able to find in the vibrant city that inspired many a tune.

Jump forward several more years and my next trip over the Irish sea was with the man who was to become Mr G. We took the time to tour around, visiting the peninsulas and wild Atlantic coast, falling in love with Beara and dreaming of owning a campsite and surf shop, somewhere we could grow old, living a self-sufficient beach life by the ocean’s edge.

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surf – Photo Credit: Val Robus

Settling Down

It’s now 16 years since we finally made the move over, choosing instead a small holding life on a hilltop rather than the wilder one we’d envisaged. Over the years we’ve taken several short breaks to various parts of this beautiful island that we now call our home, almost always under canvas, and not nearly as many as we should have given how close we live to all the places we still want to see!

Unlike Mr G, the one place I’ve yet to visit, the place that everyone talks about with a slightly wistful air, is Sligo. But that’s about to change.

So Sligo 2014 Food Festival

so sligo imageWith thanks to the So Sligo 2014 Food Festival team, a few bloggers that include Vibrant Ireland, Irish Food Guide, Sligo Secrets, A Taste of Ireland and Isle Magazine among others, have been invited to Sligo to experience a fabulous sounding couple days that will be showcasing everything Sligo has to offer.

The festival starts on Wednesday 11th June and continues until Sunday evening with things happening all over the county. Starting with Sligo town, the Só Sligo Food Trail has over 30 tapas sized house specialities available for €5 each.

I’m particularly looking forward to the seaweed walk and hope to share some of the tips I learn with you. There will also be urban foraging, fermentation and cheese making workshops as well as lots of food demonstrations and talks by local and celebrity chefs.

During the festival JP McMahon will be bringing a pop up version of his award-winning Aniar Restaurant in Galway to The Model on Friday and there will be a Yeats Nobel Dinner by Alan Fitzmaurice on Thursday 12th (the eve of Yeats Day which is also being celebrated in Sligo).

Other events include the World Irish Stew Championship, something that everybody is encouraged to enter by bringing along two portions of stew (they have facilities to heat & serve), as well as several events for children too. A food village will be setting up from 1pm on Friday to Sunday evening, and before wrapping it up, there’ll be a Street Feast where people can bring their own food – or buy it from the stalls and food outlets, enjoying together!

I’ll be reporting back how my trip goes and am particularly looking forward to horse riding on the Sligo beaches and the eco-tourism side of things, something that Ireland can offer in abundance.

Sligo Horseriding

Photo Credit: Val Rubus

If you think the festival sounds interesting and would like to head along, check out the So Sligo website for full details and be sure to find me on any of the social media channels and say hello if you’re in Sligo.

Photo’s for this post have been reproduced with kind permission from Val of Magnumlady.com, a Sligo photographer who captures life there so well.