2015 has been designated the National Year of Yeats, the Nobel prize winning poet who was born 150 years ago on 13th June 1865. William Butler Yeats grew up in Dublin and owned a castle in Galway but it was the wild beauty of Sligo which really caught his poetic imagination and it was in Sligo that he was laid to rest. Throughout the year the county will host events to celebrate his genius.
Take the Sligo Road out of Enniskillen and follow the A4 to Belcoo, then the N16 from Blacklion to Manorhamilton and on towards Sligo.
Soon you will reach the dramatic Glencar pass where the road overlooks the Glencar lake and the waterfall made famous by Yeats in his poem, “The Stolen Child” (where the wandering water gushes from the hill above Glencar). Stop at the lay-by to take in the scene and don’t miss the shamrock of trees high up on the hillside. You may also drive down to the lake and enjoy a waterside picnic.
With the sea in the distance and the majestic outline of Benbulben to the right you make the descent towards Sligo town, a busy shopping centre with boutique stores, the Johnston Court shopping mall and family run businesses like H Lyons which opened its doors in 1835 in Lower Knox Street. At 4 Castle Street, The Cat & Moon, named after Yeats’s play, specialises in Irish made craft, jewellery, scarves and pottery. Dooney’s at 36 O’Connell Street sell traditional Irish knitwear. At no 5, Hargadons pub was built the year before Yeats was born. From the bridge over the Garavogue river watch the swans congregate beyond the rapids hard by the Sligo City Hotel and outside the Ulster Bank at Stephen Street, admire Rohan Gillespie’s bronze statue of Yeats. In this cosmopolitan county town you may eat in the Italian quarter at Casa Mia or Bistro Bianconi in Tobergal Lane. On the Quay, at Rockwood Parade Eala Bhan offers the best in fine dining specialising in seafood and st