|Sligo has been a popular destination for
centuries. The area is steeped in history and tradition, but today a
distinctive New Age vitality can be seen throughout the area. The town of
Sligo gracefully combines its busy market role with a relaxed attitude.
The tightly packed streets and laneways are crowded with a diverse array
of shops and pubs, while bridges and benches are welcome points for quiet
The Lady Erin Monument, dating from 1899, proudly stands in the centre of town. This area is popularly known as the "Market Cross" and has defined the main shopping area since the 1500s. Market Street extends north and south of the monument with a good variety of businesses; old and new styles mix well here. While McLynn's public house offers lively traditional and folk music with a good pint of Guinness, Bar Bazaar Coffee Shop and Bookshop has an exotic, modern ambience and serves various herbal concoctions, as well as caffeine-rich choices. Shee Lugh has a good selection of interesting crafts and gifts. Out and About caters for the outdoor enthusiast, with nearby Flanagan Cycles providing bike hire and service. If you are in the mood for a picnic, both Kate's Kitchen and the nineteenth-century style Cosgrove's have an astonishing choice of tasty treats.
Castle Street branches off Market Street towards the East. This is another busy business district. The Cat and The Moon offers high-quality Irish art and crafts with particularly attractive jewellery and pottery. Next door, the Cottage Café will keep hunger pangs at bay with its bistro menu during the day and stylish game-based entrees at night. Browsers are made very welcome at the Castle Gallery where unique local art is displayed and sold. If you would like to quench your thirst in an usual atmosphere, Shoot the Crows may be just the place. Mysterious murals and grinning skulls surround the bar. The historic Sligo Courthouse on Teeling Street is also in this area. Its High Victorian Gothic exterior is quite impressive. The remains of Sligo Abbey display a much simpler architectural style and make for very interesting exploration.
West of the Market Cross the concentration of businesses increases, making this the busiest area of town. Grattan Street leads away from Lady Erin and features some of Sligo's most interesting shops. Health foods and wholesome baked goods can be found at Tir Na Nog and the expert staff can give well-informed advice too. Octavious Fine Wines offers a superlative selection of vintages from around the world. It is the perfect place to find that special gift for a wine connoisseur or to indulge your own whims. For something more eternal, exquisite Irish theme jewellery can be found at Armin Lowe Jewellers. Continuing west, Grattan Street changes its name to John Street. The pretty, Anglican Church of St John the Baptist soon comes into view. Just beyond is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built on a much grander scale. Near the churches, on Temple Street, is the Hawk's Well Theatre, which provides a range of entertainment throughout the year. The Sligo Tourist Office is located beneath the theatre. Fascinating pottery pieces can be found in this area at Michael Kennedy Ceramics on Church Street.
Back at Grattan Street, O'Connell Street branches off to the northwest. This is the real hub of the town where innumerable shops, restaurants, and pubs vie for attention. Mullaney Brothers is a Sligo institution offering Irish fashions and crafts in a traditional atmosphere. Carraig Donn also offers high-quality Irish goods, with an upbeat style. Bistro Bianconi helps fill those empty spaces, while Kate's Beauty and Body Clinic can put the lustre back into your countenance. Web surfers hit the Cygo Internet Café where light snacks and caffeine keep you going while you surf. If you want a break from the hustle and bustle, head into Hargadon's pub. Snugs and small nooks provide a welcome oasis of peace in an old style setting. Wine Street lies above O'Connell Street. Here Michael Quinn Wood Carver has his studio. Once a butcher, he now focuses solely on his beautifully carved figures. Quay Street is in this area as well. Here, the large Factory Theatre is home to the Blue Raincoats Theatre Group.
The northern area of town has an almost Parisian feel with a maze of interesting alleys and beautiful views of the Garavogue River. On Rockwood Parade a host of pleasant shops and restaurants enjoy river views, including the diminutive Book Nest and the stylish Fiddler's Creek. In fine weather, outdoor café tables and decorative benches may entice to while away an hour or two. Across the river at Douglas Hyde Bridge, the Winding Stair Bookshop is well stocked with new and antiquarian reading material. Barton Smith's has almost everything for the sporting enthusiast. For a special gift, Sligo Crystal and Giftware offers a beautiful range of sparkling pieces. An unusual sculpture of W.B. Yeats stands on Stephen Street, while the Sligo Art Gallery, Sligo County Museum, and Library are grouped together close by. Just a little further on is one of Sligo's prettiest buildings, The Model Arts Centre. This nineteenth-century, honey-coloured stone building commands a lovely view and adds a little bit of grandeur to the town.
Numerous attractions lie outside of town with the scenic beauty of Lough Gill, Knocknarea, Benbulben, and Glencar Waterfall just ten miles (18km) away. Life throughout the ages can be seen at the Carrowmore Megalithic Tombs, monastic ruins at Drumcliff Visitor's Centre, and period Lissadell House. There are many sights particularly associated with W. B. Yeats too. A visit to Dooney Rock Forest Park or Dead Man's Point can offer scenic delight, while the Isle of Innishfree Cruise may inspire. Children will particularly enjoy a trip to Woodville Farm or Waterpoint. Whatever your interest, Sligo is truly the "land of heart's desire."