Pól Ó Conghaile: Why Sligo’s Knocknarea is a stroll with soul

However I’ve simply visited a spot the place there is not any hazard of that occuring. It is Strandhill, Co Sligo, and the treasure on its doorstep is the punchy, poetic limestone hump referred to as Knocknarea.

“It is among the finest locations to get to know individuals,” mentioned Aoife Porter, who lives domestically and invited me to affix her there on a stroll. “The reality serum descends. You would not get it in a face-to-face dialog.”

Like many Strandhill souls, Aoife is a blow-in. Hailing from Cork, she runs a digital-marketing firm within the city. Additionally like many, she’s utterly obsessed on this pretty, fierce, changeable lump on her doorstep.

“There’s one thing magical about that mountain.”

I’ve at all times been intrigued by Knocknarea; by the considered Queen Maeve baked into its cairn; by Yeats’ evocative Land of Coronary heart’s Need; by the sheer charisma of the factor, curled up like an enormous cat towards the city.

I additionally love that concept of strolling’s fact serum – the fourth dimension you slip into when units are pocketed, recent air is flowing, boots go clump and squelch and dialog frees up. So I jumped on the probability.

— Pól Ó Conghaile (@poloconghaile) December 18, 2019

On the hill, we had been joined by Barry Hannigan of Northwest Journey Excursions (one other blow-in) and Dave O’Connor of Wild West Crusing. Queen Maeve’s Path is a two-hour stroll leaving from the city, however we took the previous route from the southeast.

A stream of water bled down a blackened path, and up we went previous the stays of a abandoned village, stooping to look at fossilised coral (“it is a slam dunk that this was as soon as a seabed,” Barry says), pausing to look out on drumlins, earlier than heading to the 320m summit.

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There, we wolfed down sandwiches from Shell’s Cafe, Barry lit a range to make espresso, and we marvelled on the cairn’s stones and tales about what could lie beneath. It was a transparent day, and we may see a glassy Lough Gill, the Satan’s Chimney waterfall and a low winter mild shifting over Ben Bulben and, extra faintly, Slieve League.

“The climate may be very completely different to the east,” Barry mused. “Right here, it strikes quick. It may be vicious. However you could not ask for a greater day to climb a hill.”

Strandhill is on a roll, having received a European Vacation spot of Excellence (EDEN) Award for its well being and wellbeing tourism, and a Nationwide Surf Centre is because of open this autumn. From surf to seaweed baths, climbing and yoga, it feels each like a spot and a pinch of positivity you’ll be able to faucet into, even on a fleeting journey.

Do not ignore its treasure this yr. Perhaps the mountain will communicate to you, too.

For more information, see sligotourism.ie.

Take three: Sligo walks

Weekend Journal

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