Sometimes you need to find a place that feels removed from everyone else for a weekend of R&R and solitude. After wrapping up nonstop, action-packed two months of travel we were worn out and needed to slow it down and we found the perfect place to do it, Sligo Ireland. Slow travel is actually our preferred way of seeing a place, not having too much planned and being able to just go with the flow and take it all in.
Sligo is one of those lesser-known, hidden gem destinations in Ireland. With a rugged landscape full of natural wonders from mountains to seaside views that was breathtaking enough to inspire artists like poet W.B. Yeats. Rain or shine, you can’t help but be awe inspired by the dramatic views and fresh ocean breeze.
We teamed up with Ireland’s Blue Book, who has a collection of the finest Irish country homes, castles, and manors for visitors to escape on a refreshing or romantic getaway in their country’s beautiful countryside. We spent two amazing evenings at Coopershill House, a private estate and 500-acre property that has been passed down generation to generation dating all the way back to as early as the 1500s.
The entire weekend was filled with beautiful scenery, countryside charm, historical sites, a cool seaside town, and of course the luxurious countryside manor.
Here’s how we recommend spending a perfect weekend in Sligo Ireland, an amazing Irish countryside escape.
Nestled in Riverstown, just a few miles inland from Sligo is CoopersHill House. A historic estate built in 1774 by the O’Family and associated with the Cooper family by marriage this 500-acre property has been passed down from generation to generation since the 15oos. You can actually see ruins from the original estate in the long tree and pasture lined driveway leading up to Coopershill House. Coopershill House has been hosting guests in individually restored rooms since the 1970s serving daily tea at 4 pm in their sitting room fireside with a freshly baked cake, and dinner using their family’s very own fine china with farm to table fresh meals including venison from their farm.
The entire experience is out of a romantic Hollywood film. The property is gorgeous and you’re encouraged to take a step outside and visit the horses, look at the deer, and listen to the gentle trickle of the river running through the property.
Inside you feel like you’re in a living museum. Filled with antiques and furniture passed down from generation to generation the house is immaculate and restored beautifully. You can’t help but be impressed that even the smallest details from photos to bathtubs in the home are antique.
There is even one bathroom that has what most of been one of the first bathtub showers. There were many different nozzles that you would really need to have someone who knows what they are doing help you draw a bath. Since the house only has 8 rooms for guests you quickly become friendly with other guests. One couple we met comes to Coopershill annually and actually told us about her experience using the antique tub. She did mention she needed help figuring out all the different nozzles and faucets from Simon, the current property owner.
Staying here felt like taking a step back in time. Even the rooms are without televisions, however, you can connect to wifi. It was nice to go somewhere where you felt like you were removed from the modern world a bit. Making a living online means we are always in front of our screens, it was refreshing to just take a break from the screens and enjoy a life that was pre-technology, even if just for two days.
To add icing on the cake, we also came during the beginning of the fall foliage changing and the colors of the trees just made the place feel a little more magical.
To make you feel even more at home, Simon O’Hara, the owner with his parents will come chat with you and give you great tips and suggestions of places to see nearby. He was really fun to converse with since he has quite an interesting background and was also an avid traveler and even worked on a safari in Africa.
This was an experience we will never forget. It also reminds us that we need to find more experiences like this more often. Planning a trip to Sligo Ireland needs to include a stay at Coopershill House. If for some reason you cannot get a reservation try calling and seeing if there are any open seats for dinner in the manor. Sometimes they do have open seats at dinner and take outside guests.
Caves of Keash
We found the Caves of Keash by accident while driving around Sligo Ireland looking for a hot meal at the Fox’s Den, sadly they were closed. We couldn’t help but notice these huge, gaping black holes on the side of the giant limestone cliffs overlooking a pasture of sheep.
It turns out that these were the Caves of Keash, one of Sligo Ireland’s hidden gems on Keshcorran Mountain. There are 16 different caves to explore after a short walk up the trail from the car park.
Archeologists have found many remains and bones from Ice Age animals to humans within the caves. Besides having scientific value to the past with their findings the caves also do have plenty of folk tales and folklore that go along with the caves including a tale about one of Ireland’s kings Cormac Mac Airt and how he was raided by a she-wolf in the caves.
If you are running short on time you can easily enjoy the enigma of the caves by just doing a drive by and pulling off to look up at the giant black cavities in the side of the mountain.
Megalithic Tomb Sites
Besides having unique caves, Sligo Ireland has megalithic and Neolithic tombs and cemeteries scattered throughout the county. One being very near to the Caves of Keash on Keshcorran Mountain. Carrowkeel was actually recommended to us by Simon, our friend from Coopershill. He went on to explain how fascinating these ancient tombs were and that you can actually crawl through the passageway and admire the view from inside the tombs on a clear day.
Situated upland, this tomb complex not only has rewarding views of the surrounding landscape but date back to around 5000 years ago. You can spend an afternoon exploring the surrounding area where there are 14 different passage cairns. The easiest one to access is the one on the first hill where you can basically drive your car all the way up to.
We showed up on a rainy day with barely any visibility while I was battling a cold so we didn’t end up going up past the car park. We did, however, enjoy the sheep chilling alongside the road leading to the carpark. We were told it’s best to go on a clear day so you can really get to see the view, so it didn’t work out for us but would give it another try in a heartbeat.
Besides Carrowkeel, another notable historical site in Sligo Ireland is the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. It’s the largest megalithic cemetery in the country and one of the oldest in the continent dating back to around 4000 B.C and easy to access with a visitor center. The sites look like piles of rock, to be honest, but the history and the age of these tombs is rather interesting.
Sligo Ireland City
A trip to Sligo Ireland isn’t complete without checking out the city. While it’s not the largest city and much time isn’t needed, its still a quaint town worth taking a lap around or enjoying a hot meal. No matter how many we go to, we still love walking the streets of small Irish towns with their cute storefronts and pub lined streets.
The raging River Garavogue runs through the center of town connecting Lough Gil to Sligo Bay. While the water is a force not to be reckoned with, one look at the raging rapids and you’ll understand why it does help set the scene in town.
We recommend eating at least one meal, whether it be lunch or dinner in town. We enjoyed a hearty lunch at Swagman Bar, a no-fuss craft beer pub near the center of town. Our meals were delicious and we are always down to sample a new craft beer.
This is also where you can shop or pick up any last minute items you may have forgotten on your getaway to Sligo Ireland or check out some of the sites in town including the Sligo Abbey or Sligo Cathedral.
*If you visit during peak season before the end of August you can do a walking tour of Sligo starting at the Sligo Tourist Office weekdays and Saturdays at 11 am. They cover the town while sharing some of the history including why Sligo has ties with Dracula!
Knocknarea Scenic Drive
One of the two iconic hills in Sligo Ireland is Knocknarea. The 1,000 ft limestone hill, or mountain, is a part of the natural skyline of Sligo and has a scenic drive around the entire hill overlooking and situated between Sligo and Ballysadare Bays.
The drive itself is beautiful and short enough to be driven twice. We were unlucky with finding pull off points to just hop out of the car and take photos thanks to the narrow roads, but it was a beautiful drive. It only takes about 20 minutes to do the entire drive but we highly urge take some time to get lost taking turns down random roads that either lead to new viewpoints.
There are more megalithic tombs on Knocknarea as well as the burial site for Queen Maeve of Connacht.
After witnessing the views you can understand why this landscape inspired famous Irish poet, Yeats.
Also known as “Table Mountain,” Benbulben is the most photographed and recognized viewpoint in Sligo Ireland. Another place that inspired the works of Yeats and a place that gathers outdoor enthusiasts year round. With hiking and running trails around the mountain, safe walking trails up Benbulben on the south side of the mountain, or horseback riding with that epic backdrop.
Yeats even wrote a poem entirely dedicated to Benbulben titled, “Under Ben Bulben.”
Besides being stunning, a place for people to get fresh air, and inspiration for literature Benbulben is also a place with its very own legends including fairy doors. It is said that this is the only place in the country where mortals can see fairies with their naked eye as well as other legends.
You can also visit Glencar Waterfall from Benbulben as well located just a short walk from the carpark at Glencar Lake.
Sligo Ireland has to be one of the most underrated destinations in the country. When you’re visiting Ireland be sure to plan some time outside of the most touristy spots like Dublin, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs of Moher to lesser-known countryside gems like Coopershill House and the rest of the gorgeous landscape and sites that make up Sligo.
Disclaimer: Our trip with Coopershill House was organized and in partnership with Ireland’s Blue Book. However, as always all opinions are our own.
Looking for more great stops along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way? Then check out our articles on the best way to see the Cliffs of Moher, how the Dingle Peninsula Stole our hearts, Kilkee Ireland’s best kept secret, why Connemara is the most interesting place in Ireland and a day trip to the Aran Islands.
Liked this post? Share the love below on Pinterest.
Share this Post