Sligo is a county in the Connacht province of Ireland, on the Atlantic Ocean coast. In spite of its small area, it has a variety of scenery - mountain, lake and coastal. The Ox Mountains lie in the west, while north of Sligo town the landscape is dominated by limestone hills with steep sides and flat tops. The majority of the coast is low, having sandy beaches and low cliffs.
The county offers some of the most isolated scenery in the country, as well as literally hundreds of megalithic monuments - a higher proportion than anywhere else in Ireland. Perfect, therefore, for the artist who wishes to be inspired.
Some of this wonderful scenery inspired the painter Jack Butler Yeats and his brother, poet William Butler Yeats, who spent much time here as youths. Lough Gill, just outside the town of Sligo, has the lake isle of Innisfree, immortalized by Yeats in one of his most famous poems. Legend says that the silver bell of Sligo Abbey now lies at the bottom of the lake, and can only be heard by the purest people, those who have not sinned. Lough Arrow is another lake with beautiful scenery, surrounded by hills. Glencar Lough is particularly impressive because of the waterfall and visited also for the fishing opportunities it offers, while Lough Gara, apart from its gorgeous scenery, is famous for the crannógs found after the Government partially drained it in the 1950's. Crannógs are man-made islands, composed of rocks, logs, twigs and mud, and the ones on Lough Gara were inhabited from around 200 BC up to just before the Battle of Hastings - that is, for a full millennium.
Other famous prehistoric sites include the Carrowkeel complex, that rivals with the neighbouring Carrowmore graveyard, the largest prehistoric cemetery in Europe after Carnac (France). Carrowmore graveyard has 60 tombs, as well as stone circles and other monuments. Glen Car and Ben Bulben feature in number of Yeats' poems, the latter dominating the little village of Drumhill, where the poet wanted to be buried. His last poem, "Under Ben Bulben", contains his desire to be buried there, and his epitaph as well: "Cast a cold eye / On life, on death. / Horseman, pass by!". The horseman is a ghostly Sligo rider who is said to take the souls of the wicked to hell.
For the holidaymaker in Sligo, there are seaside resorts - Inniscrone and Strandhill, for example - and a lot of activities available, as well. Loughs Colgagh and Gill are good for coarse fishing, Glencar for game fishing, and Sligo Bay for sea angling. Every August, surfing championships take place in Strandhill. Yachters can pursue their hobby and golfers have plenty of opportunities, as well: Rosses Point, Enniscrone, Standhill or Ballymote Clubs. For those enjoying horse-riding, Ard Chuan Equestrian Centre, the Sligo Riding Centre, Markree Castle Horse riding stables, are a few available options. For hill-walking, there's The Sligo Way (74 km), as well as Benbulben and Lough Arrow Areas.
The town of Sligo has several Art Galleries (Niland, Taylor, Sligo Art Gallery); Hawk's Well Theatre and Gaiety Cinema are also good places to go while in town, and Heritage Centres can be found both here and all over the county. There are plenty of festivals all year long, the Festival for Choirs and the Sligo Arts Festival being among them. Sligo is also one of the counties where traditional music thrives, so the tourist shouldn't miss the opportunity to attend a session.