Travel, photography, and becoming your own superhero!

Going Home To A Sligo That I Didn’t Know Existed


Posted on October 7th, by Peter Parkorr in Ireland, Picture Perfect. 23 comments

Today I’m posting some very brief highlights of a great road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way in the North West of Ireland, and Sligo specifically. My mum is going to love this post. Steady, Mum. Some observers’ highlights of the trip (which was part of TBEX Dublin) have already reached the papers and radio stations here, and I have such fantastic recordings to reveal over the coming days, but first here’s a touch of the magic I felt so far, and the reasons why…

Some background for you: Half of my family is Irish, and most of the generation above me (on my mothers side) either grew up in Sligo or spent a lot of time there, in the place that my grandparents lived for the last few decades. So I’ve been to Sligo a lot, and I’ve seen the progeny of Sligo in Ireland and elsewhere many many times. I must have visited Ireland or Irish family at least once for every year since my arrival on the blue planet (31 so far). Probably a lot more.

Sligo wild atlantic way wild blackberries

Wild blackberries next to a viewing point

A little more to pad out the story: Hi, I’m Peter, (alright, also known as Shane!) and I gave up a frustrating but comfortable modern existence to find things my heart yearns for. Some of those things are deep, and some of them are simple. And I really really yearn for them. I’m on a long, tumultuous ‘yearney’ you might say, if you were particularly witty. The simple things are so basic and fulfilling that they’ve been around since prehistory; before modern-day materialism and longer than evolution. I don’t really care so much for all our new-fangled technologies that make life easier. I do love gadgets, but I hate materialism. Yep, I’m a little conflicted. If you don’t also find yourself conflicted, at least some of the time, please check your brain is set to ‘On’. Mike Sowden recently said “All creativity is an illusion”. What if all invention is too? (I have a great theory to release into the wild on that sometime.)

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way ireland peter parkorr

Shooting the breeze… Photo by Alison Chino

The simple pleasures I long for are things like cold, clear ocean waters to swim in, and exploring rough, undisturbed shores. I want to savour the subtle palettes of natures grocery, complimenting them with a side of refreshing weather, whichever form it may take. And I want my body to stay strong and lean, from consciously struggling against the physical world around it. That’s what it’s made for after all. I like to think that all the world is a fountain of energy, and the more of it you spend, the more you can drink. (This sentence not sponsored by the makers of finest Irish whiskies.) I imagine my perfect lifestyle having a strong element of The Swiss Family Robinson, Swallows and Amazons, or Castaway.

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way sligo

Stopping for a scenic view along the coast road

Anyway, imagine my surprise. The last place I was expecting to find a playground for my soul, was a part of the world I’ve been to so many times. But when I chose to go on a TBEX blog trip in the area, I knew I’d see things I might not know to look for. I’ll try to let my pictures of Sligo do most of the talking, because I still can’t quite believe what lay in wait.

On the sands of Streedagh beach; hints of tropical turquoise, isolated stretches of clean and inviting water, and a deep knowledge of a Spanish Armada’s tragic history, retold by Auriel from Seatrails. 400 year old shipwrecks also await investigation in only 8 metres of water, to tempt divers with the proper permits.

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way North West Ireland streedagh beach

Clear waters, and a deserted Streedagh beach

wild atlantic way beach stones water turquoise

Smoothed pebbles and the cleanest sand I’ve seen in years

On the wind-whipped promenade of Strandhill; the sea’s bounties are served with skilful innovation, by Jane and Myles, the owners of Shells cafe. Dinner here was paired with introductions to local guides who offer adventure itineraries to immerse you in nature from the moment you land until the moment you leave. Like catching your own fish dinner, or learning to free dive in the Atlantic with only the air tanks you were born with.

Strandhill sunset beach Sligo road trip wild atlantic way

A beautiful red Sun dips towards the horizon at Strandhill

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way

The owners slash innovators of Shells cafe, Strandhill

Sligo Strandhill wild atlantic way food Shells cafe

Delicious calamari salad with fresh mint and other twists, from Shells

A welcome development within Sligo itself; was an abundance of healthy watersports at Doorly Park. Also used by Sligo’s rowing club, we imitated some kind of river-dwelling tribes-people, and I skated around choppy waters in my first time paddle-boarding, with Perfect Day Surf School.

tom fakler photo peter parkorr paddle boarding 2

A Doorly Park paddle… photo by Tom Fakler Photography

Another one of many great meals; with seafood sourced so locally that it tastes just like sea spray. The ‘sea shore chef’s’ homemade Seaweed Pesto was one of the best culinary sensations of the whole trip, at Eithna’s By The Sea, Mullaghmore.

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way

A mackrel ceviche with Calamari and Seaweed pesto, from Eithna’s

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way ireland food seaweed

A seaweed and blackberry compote with crunchy meringue

And local musicians who eagerly awaited our audience; to showcase many of the local talent in both rehearsed and spontaneous collaboration, at Source Sligo.

Source sligo restaurant food music night with bands

A host of talented musicians entertained a very full Source restaurant

 

These are only a handful of the treats I sampled during my road trip along the wild atlantic way, with a brilliant bunch of bloggers. That’s without even including Donegal, Inishowen, or….

…the dolphins

I can’t wait to show you the dolphins.

Sligo road trip wild atlantic way-11

A few of the brilliant bloggers, with more of them appearing on the blog soon

Hopefully you understand how excited I was to see the number of spirit-nourishing treasures Ireland holds, and after only re-discovering such a small part! I do wonder what the rest of it has to offer…

Thanks, and much love Eire. I’ll be back.

N.B. I quote Mike Sowden not to name-drop, but because he keeps on saying things that, in my humble opinion, are incredibly relevant. Well, excluding references to Breaking Bad for the time being. And he barely even mutters when he writes these days.

P.S. More on ‘Parkorr‘.

And a huge thanks to TBEX, Failte Ireland and Sligo Tourism for putting together such a great itinerary for us!





23 thoughts on “Going Home To A Sligo That I Didn’t Know Existed

  1. Aww, good times!!! It was indeed a great trip with many surprises and unexpected discoveries (like Sligo being a surfing hotspot or the incredible food or the seaweed spa therapy or the northernmost bar in Ireland and so much more…) I hope there’ll be more about Ireland soon! :D

    • Its so funny that you didnt know sligo was a surfing hot spot, infact its more than a “hot spot” its one of the most world renowned surf spots with people coming from australia to have a go at the waves on Strandhill.

      • Hi CR, I knew it was a surf spot to be fair (my sis went on a surf hol there last year) but I didn’t realise the waters were so blue and clear, and just how well the whole region is doing in providing options for visitors! I think it was Susi’s first time outside of Dublin tho.

  2. Loved your photos and comments. Check out our website to find out about our annual Festival that commemorates the tragic story of the Spanish Armada of 1588 and the thrilling account of the adventures of Francisco De Cuellar in the North West of 16th century Ireland

  3. What a great piece! The more I read of folks discovering properly for the first time, the more jealous I get- I’m originally from Sligo and am currently exiled working in Kildare (which feels like the flattest most landlocked county in Ireland.) Rarely does a trip home fail to take my breath away, from Benbulben enveloping you as approach from the N4, to the drizzly misty mornings that make the Atlantic roar. Streedagh is possibly the most soul-soothing place on earth (although I usually sneak off to the quieter first beach-it’s like your own private cove!) and the vibe round the town both musically and creatively is something very special-Sligo rocks!
    p.s. if you were free-diving, it was probably with my big bro Fearg-if you weren’t; come back soon and try it : )

    • Oh, awesome! I didn’t get to freedive this trip, but I’m hoping to get back before the year is out and that is top of my list! All this time I thought I had to make my way to Greece to be living the good life on the waters edge, and people like your brother have been doing it in Sligo for years! Streedagh really was fab, and I lost count how many shots I took of Benbulben lurking in the distance too :) At least you’re not too far away!

  4. Cheers mate – again you surprised me with some of your shots which are all pretty cool. I didn’t realize there have been berries :)

    I will do my edit next week and look forward to more of your many pictures

  5. sligo is a very under rated county, the drive in to the city with the view of benbulbin is one of the best man and god combined efforts on the planet, Irelands best kept secret, maybe best to leave it that way.

    • Well I agree that well kept secrets are not always for unveiling! But at least it would be hard to spoil this one even if thousands of people turned up, because of the sheer size of it :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>