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Why not Sligo or Donegal?

We are traveling to Ireland in May and spending about 3 weeks (driving). We will spend much of our time in the south (probably going Dublin - Kilkenny - Kinsale - Kenmare - Dingle - Westport). I would also like to spend a few days in the north part of the Republic because that is where most of my ancestors came from. I don't see much reference to either Sligo or Donegal in Rick Steves' guidebook. Does anyone have any suggestions about whether to stay in either of those towns or somewhere else for a few nights to best explore the north? Thank you so much for the help!

Posted by
9363 posts

RS writes about what RS likes. The same is true of several of his other guidebooks (I returned the Spain guidebook because it said not one word about the northern Spain places I intended to visit). There are plenty of great guidebooks around. I haven't been that direction on any of my Ireland trips, but I'm sure you could find great recommendations from others here or from other guidebooks.

Posted by
317 posts

Donegal and Sligo are a joy!

Im biased about Donegal as I grew up there and know it better than any tour-guide in the country, but most Irish people will speak of it in affectionate terms if you ask them.

Both counties are beautiful and are where many Irish people go to escape the massive numbers of tourists who head to the south-western counties of the Republic.

Donegal in particular is always in the top 3 of beautiful counties when those types of lists are compiled. It also where Enya comes from, so its a bastion of gaelic culture, language and music.

Id recommend staying in Donegal town and day-tripping from there, maybe move over to Letterkenny and spend a night or two there and also on into Derry. If your family emigrated by boat to America from Sligo or Donegal its most probable they left from Derry, the big regional port.

The top 5 sights to see in my opinion are:
1. Glenveagh National Park and Castle
2. Slieve League Cliffs
3. The coastal drive along 'Bloody Foreland'
4. The archeological sites in the Inishowen peninsula and 'Grianan Aileach' fort
5. Vist Leo's pub in Crolly, near Gweedore, and have a chowder and some Guinness and chat to Enya's lively brother Bartley. Good times.

Any other in-depth questions on Donegal, or our neighbouring county Sligo, Ill be happy to answer and assist.

Le meas/with respect
Stephen McPhilemy
Dingle, Derry and Donegal...

Posted by
53 posts

Thank you so much! I do have other guidebooks but was curious about why this area was under-reported by RS. I can understand it could just be his personal preference. I'm feeling better about Donegal now and will probably include it at the end of our itinerary. Thanks for the info and suggestions. While we are at it, if you are anyone has an opinion, I'd be curious about whether a drive from Donegal straight to Dublin (airport) is doable or if a stop midway is a better choice.
Thanks again!

Posted by
233 posts

When we were in Donegal we stayed in a little village called Bunbeg. It was an interesting locale. We had a lovely meal at Caisleain Oir, a hotel in nearby Anagaire (it looked like a fine place to stay and could be a good base for exploring the area) and we enjoyed a wonderful music session at the local Bunbeg pub. Leo's pub is also in that area. The drive through Donegal and Sligo Counties was quite lovely. One of our favorite stops in Sligo County was the megalithic cemetery at Carrowmore, supposedly the largest and oldest such site in Ireland. Sligo County is chock full of prehistoric monuments if that sort of thing interests you. We enjoyed it very much!

Posted by
4992 posts

Hi ML - our one visit (so far) to Ireland was a bicycle tour starting in Galway and heading south. Later, a friend in the US with ancestors from Sligo said she'd really had a great time visiting there -- but we didn't know Emily back when we were planning our trip.

Rick's books are the absolute best for the portions of countries he covers, but he's selective and there's a lot Rick has chosen not to cover. Lonely Planet and other guidebooks have often been decent sources of travel information - which we're using for our Brittany, France trip this coming summer - and Rick provides no details about Brest, Quimper, Vannes, and other places on our France must-see list!

Posted by
317 posts

Pretty much everywhere in dear old Donegal is about 3-5 hours to get to Dublin airport. By Irish standards its a big county. But in a lot of Donegal it'll only take 3 hours and a wee bit to get to Dublin airport safely.

Posted by
11450 posts

A bit off topic, but we met the nicest young irish couple in paris a few years ago, and they were from Sligo, salt if the earth types, the young fellow even carried a picture of his new tractor , he was so proud of it, he farmed and his wife worked at her moms.
The young ladys mom owned and ran a B@B in Sligo, i think it was called the Ave Marie, if we ever get out that way we would stay there for sure! Lovely people. I bet you will love the area...if its half as nice as the people.

Posted by
365 posts

Donegal is Ireland's "Wild West," absolutely pristine and gorgeous with little tourist traffic (no trains go there) and will give you a unique perspective of the country. The village of Glencomumbkille, at the far southwest end of the county, has one pub that offers traditional music sessions in the summertime and incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. Conical Mt. Errigal in the far northwest corner of Donegal should not be missed. Ditto on Slieve League.