Arigna Mining Experience
The Arigna Mining Experience is you guessed it, a trip into a coal mine.
The Arigna was a working mine for 400 years and last working coal mine in Ireland until it closed in 1990. The mine sits above the most picturesque countryside and lake; the breathtaking scenery is worth a visit.
On the narrated tour you see the terrible working conditions of the miners The miner lays in a cramped workspace with water dripping on him all day and as there is no room for him to sit up he must roll from side-to-side as he’s chipping away at the coal. After he’s chipped enough coal, he then pushes it out into the main tunnel where it’s loaded onto coal cars. It seems nearly impossible when you’re actually see the size of the coal cars and are informed he must fill 21 of them on his eight to ten hour shift.
Not only grown men worked under these conditions but children were put to work here as soon as they were able as the family needed the income. Before you enter the mine, there are exhibits that take you through the history of the mine and of these enduring people.
Be prepared for a rather scary ending on the tour.
This particular coal mine may have been one my late ancestors worked in as they were coal diggers from this part of Ireland.
Since there were no organized tours of the Sligo area, we hired a driver at the local tourist office to drive us to the various places we wanted to see.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Eagle and Owl Sanctuary
This bird of prey and owl sanctuary is near the town of Ballymote. It is a huge research centre that specialises in these particular types of bird and a small part of the site is open to the public - it is here that visitors get to watch eagles flying. There is a children's pet zoo also on the site for the little ones who may not be as interested in the larger birds, which can be a bit scary. It is a cheap day out (about £7) and the income from the site goes into more research about the birds.Related to:
- Family Travel
Sligo Folk Park
This is really a place to isit if you are interested in the heritage of the rural communities that make up Sligo, the focus is on traditional skills and farming.
There are mant things to see if you visit including a super museum about the history of Rverstown and the agricultural history of the area, replica cottages and farming equipment a working forge, occassional exhibitions and a craft shop selling good local produce and craft goods (like knitwear).
The Folkpark is well signed when you head south on the N4 and is relatively inexpensive - 6 euros per adult.
Strandhill Beach is a lovely but quite stony beach to the South of Sligo Town (follow signs for Strandhill Airport and turn left at the roundabout by the church). The beach is lovely for a walk not great for sunbathing though!! The Atlantic Ocean and its very rough tidal currents make this area unsuitable for swimming in my opinion but that doesn't stop the mad surfers who brave the freezing cold and very wavy water each weekend. This area has surf shops and surf schools available. This area harvests the large amount of organic seaweed that arrives on the beach and it finds its way to the Celtic Seaweed Therapy centre on the front. This centre specialises in seaweed baths and treatments at quite cheap prices - they are meant to revitalise and cleanse you!! The Strandhill area makes a nice drive but be warned it is frequently rainy and cold ;-)
Any fan of W B Yeats or any visitor wanting to tick off the Sligo to do list must visit Drumcliffe Churchyard and see the famous headstone with the epitaph that makes it so. Yeats wanted to be buried under Ben Bulben's head - the huge mountain that hovers over Sligo (North of the town heading towards Donegal: N15). His body was brought back to Ireland from France in 1948. Yeats great grandfather was the rector of Drumcliffe hence the connection.
The Churchyard is located in a lovely little village called Drumcliffe (also nearby is Lissadell) and there are many lovely B&B's in this area. There is a super restaurant on the main road through Drumcliffe, not far from the churchyard and the food here is excellent quality - it gets very busy however and being the est food in the area you need to be patient.
The area is a hotbed of early Christian activity, in 574 St Columba started a monastery at Drumcliffe. There is a 10th century High Cross which is has Biblical scenes carved into its sides, used to teach the Christian faith to illiterate and people who were new to the faith.
There is a Round Tower nearby which had many functions - local Sligo legend says the tower will fall down when the wisest man ever, passes by it!!!
The church does exhibitions and videos but not all the time. While the grave is a must see it is also less than you would expect - it is very simple and unassuming.
Carrowkeel is a superb site of passage tombs set in the Bricklieve Mountains in Sligo. The tombs are not huge (when compared with Maeve'e Cairn or Newgrange) but they are accessible and well preserved, apart from some obvious removal of some stones.
These tombs are well placed to create the ritual landscape the Neolithic people wanted and evidence/remains of a prehistoric village is in a lower depression in the mountains.
The drive to the tombs is well signed from the main road and as you get nearer the road quality does deteriorate. You have two choices: park the car at the bottom of the long lane that goes to the site and walk up into the mountain or (as we did) drive the car as far up the path as it will allow and then set off on foot. It is a strenuous walk and the weather here is sometimes inclement so be prepared - I wasn't and got drenched!!
The views of Lough Arrow from the mountain side are brilliant and the tombs themselves are so worth the trek up the mountain side. You really get a sense of the isolation and hardship that these Neolithic communities must have experienced. The cairns themselves are in a good state of preservation and some have the light boxes that allow the summer/winter equinox to be celebrated. This is a unique feature and is found also at Newgrange Passage tomb.Related to:
Creevykeel Court Tomb
Creevykeel is one of the best restored Court Tombs in Ireland and at over 60 metres long is also one of the longest. This tomb is on the main road and the only available parking as such is a large layby area in front of the walled field that houses the tomb.
You can walk along the passage that was the original entrance to the tomb and as the site is totaly accessible you can walk through the entirety of the tomb and imagine the ritual usage.
There is evidence that early Irish Christians used this site over time too (kiln still in place). Neolithic and Bronze age artefacts and some cremated bone remains were found here during investigations.
This is a lovely site and is all the better for being able to climb, walk and thoroughly experience the remains.Related to:
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is the largest cemetery of tombs in Ireland with approximately 60 sites available to view. Originally it is believed that there were nearer to 100 cairns, dolmens and stone circles. The oldest tombs on this site are said to be 700 years older than the Passage Tomb at Newgrange. The largest of the cairns is Cairn 51 (also called Listoghil) and it makes a spectacular sight. Driving around the lanes surrounding Carrowmore you can see the evidence of this pre-historic activity in this area, there are Dolmens jutting out of hedges and farm out buildings and there are many standing stones. The ritual landscape of Sligo is very apparent.
When you arrive at the site there is a small visitor centre and car park, the majority of tombs themselves are only accessed through this visitor centre but admission charges are very reasonable (approx 2Euro). A really helpful guide in the centre had loads of information about the history of the excavations and the connections with the Boyne Valley range of tombs.
There are a small selection of tombs in a field opposite the main site.
You must wear sturdy shoes as the site is sometimes wet.
I had a really enjoyable few hours here and while not the best preserved archaeology of Sligo it is certainly part of the story and should be visited in conjunction with Creevykeel, Knocknarea and Carrowkeel.Related to:
Explore Sligo Town!
Sligo Town is quite a busy area, and its narrow streets are very vibrant and colourful for a place so relatively obscure and far away from other major cities. There is a large variety of shops (I'm always attracted to book shops and there were lots of them here), and there is a McDonald's for anyone who's an unhealthy fast-food fan like me.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
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