My friends and I decided to visit County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland to get away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. Nicknamed “Yeats country,” the lush countryside was a source of inspiration for author W.B. Yeats, who spent much of his childhood there. People flock to County Sligo in the summertime to surf and hike, and there are certainly no shortages of beaches or gorgeous nature trails to choose from. Since we decided to go on a rainy mid-October weekend, both those activities were out of the question. But don’t get me wrong: County Sligo is still beautiful no matter the weather. Benbulbin, one of five flat-top mountains in the world, is a must-see when visiting County Sligo and lucky for us it was still visible from our Airbnb, even in the doom and gloom of Irish weather.
In planning for our trip, we were repeatedly told that we needed a car if we wanted to do any of the trails, which bummed me out because I really wanted to walk the Yeats Trail and hike the base of Benbulbin. To rent a car in Ireland you must be 25 years old and know how to drive manually. There’s also the whole driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road deal that made driving around County Sligo impossible for us. We thought that ordering taxis would be the solution, but as we learned from many locals, taxi drivers weren’t too fond of driving out to the middle-of-nowhere where one lane roads and zero cell service were as abundant as cows and sheep.
So, what could we do? Walk? Yeah, no, not that either.
The closest town, Grange, was a 45-minute walk, but only an 18-minute drive. We made the bold choice to walk to Grange to get breakfast and got soaked from the rain. But as a consolation, I did see plenty of cows and a miniature pony. That night we found one of the rare taxis to take us to Ellen’s Pub, built in 1610 and secluded from civilization. We were treated to a private concert from locals and given the number of their “taxi guy” who could take us back to the Airbnb (shoutout Anthony). Irish hospitality at its finest. Pints at Ellen’s were half the price of any pint from a Dublin pub. As our taxi driver told us, “If you charge 7.50 euro for a pint here, you’d get your hand chopped off.”
County Sligo seemed to exist in a separate world from Dublin. Instead of buses and traffic zipping past me, I was surrounded by verdant fields and could see the ocean from my window. Although we couldn’t do anything outdoorsy like we planned to do I appreciated the change of scenery and getting to chat with locals, which made up for the lack of a car. If I ever visit Ireland again, I’m coming back for County Sligo. I just hope future me checks the forecast and learns how to drive manual.
See you next week!