The Yeats Benbulben Tour
Rosses Point → Drumcliffe → Streedagh Point → Mullaghmore → Cliffony → Creevykeel Tombs → The Horseshoe Valley & Magic Hill → Glencar Lake → Glencar Waterfall → The lake from N16 to Sligo.
Rosses Point in the North West of Sligo is a very picturesque village which boasts The Yeats Country Hotel and Leisure Centre, The village is also home to Rosses Point Championship Golf Course and Rosses Point Yacht and Sailing Club.The Sligo Bay Lifeboat Station. It has two beautiful beaches with great scenic views of Coney Island and Knocknarea. A Bronze sculpture was erected in memory of seafarers whose lives were claimed by the sea.
Next we head for Streedagh Point a small village in the north west of Sligo where the Spanish Armada floundered in 1588. Streedagh Strand is an impressive 3 kilometre long sandy beach located on the north western shore of a sandbar linking Streedagh Point to an area known as Connor’s Island. This is an exposed beach with reef breaks which create ideal surfing conditions all year round. Did you know? Three ships belonging to the Spanish Armada were wrecked on Streedagh Beach in 1588. The armada was amassed to attack and if possible wipe out the English navy fleet. However subsequent to the decisive Battle of Gravelines, a battle which the Spanish lost, the fleet fled north rounding Scotland and Ireland in the hope of returning to Spain. The ships were attempting to shelter from a ferocious Atlantic storm, however, given the severity of the weather they came aground and were wrecked. The sailors that landed at Streedagh were massacred by English troops garrisoned in Sligo, however, some survived through a mixture of good fortune and assistance from some of the Irish chieftains of the area. Captain DeCuellar’s account of his experience of these events is an extremely significant piece of social history and his epic journey back to his homeland is commemorated to this day as part of the Celtic Fringe Festival, held in Grange in June each year.
On leaving we head north to Mullaghmore, described as the Seaside Jewel in Sligo’s crown passing through Grange, Moneygold,and turning left in Cliffoney. As we drive towards Mullaghmore we see on our left Classiebawn Castle, the holiday home of the late Lord Mountbatten. It was from here that he left on his ill fated boat trip aboard the Shadow V in 1979. A bomb placed on the boat by the Provisional I.R.A. exploded off Mullaghmore Head, killing him and three others. Driving a little further we come to Mullaghmore Harbour. Lord Palmerston served two terms as Prime Minister of England 1855-1858 and 1859-1865 He was the Anglo Irish Landlord here at the time and the Mullaghmore Peninsula estate exceeded 10,000 acres.The harbour was built under the supervision of Lord Palmerston and directed by the famous Scottish engineer, Alexander Nimmo. As we drive around Mullaghmore Head we can get a great picture of the Mullaghmore Cliffs, Classebawn Castle and Benbulben in the background.
We drive back to Cliffoney and turn left onto the N15 and after about 100 yards we come to the Creevekeel Court Tomb which is reputed to have been in existence as far back as 4,000 BC. This was a place of ceremony and worship of the Christians in olden times. A team of archaeologists from Harvard University excavated Creevekeel in 1935. Cremated human bones were found as well as pottery, flint arrowheads, hollow scrapers and polished stone axes which are preserved in the National Museum in Dublin. On leaving Creevekeel we turn left heading east to a village called Ballintrillick which guards the entrance to the secret mountain-ringed valley of the Gleniff Horseshoe.
The first thing we see is a picnic area and the remains of an old Barytes Mill. This valley is guarded by three mountains, Tievebaun Truskmore on the east-side and Benwisken to the west. The drive is a 10-kilometre loop along single lane roads with spectacular views in the dramatic and wild Dartry Mountains. Early on in the loop we encounter the secret of the Magic Hill. At the south end we may be able to see some of the mine entrances which are closed to the public. As we turn right at the bottom of the loop we are facing Benwisken. We go right again and 3 kilometres along here 1200 feet up the mountain we can see Diarmud and Graine’s cave where they spent their last night together.Just up the road ahead is an old ruin of what was The Miners Hostel.
Now we are near the end of the loop we turn left at Ballintrillick and head for Cliffoney where we turn left again and head south on N15 passing through Moneypoint. We turn left again near Drumcliffe for Glencar Lake and Waterfall.