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Strandhill

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Strandhill is a village in County Sligo, 9 km west of Sligo town on the south shore of the bay, with a population in 2016 of 1753. Its name is apt: a great expanse of strand before it and hill behind, the scarp of Knocknarea. The village grew up as a seaside resort in the early 20th century, engulfing the farm settlement of Larass, and is now a surfing resort on its west-facing beach.

Get in

See Sligo for long-distance routes. Sligo Airport is in Strandhill: it closed to commercial flights in 2011.

Bus S2 starts from Rosses Point north across the estuary and runs through central Sligo then out west to Strandhill. It runs hourly, daily; from town is 20 min, adult fare around €3.

By car or bike follow R292, which loops off N4 to follow the peninsula coast from Balladrihid to Strandhill and back to Sligo. Tourist blurb calls this the Wild Atlantic Way.

Get around

The village is small enough to walk around, though it's quite a hike to Coney Island or up Knocknarea. With a car you can reach the start of shorter trails there, and even drive to the island.

See

  • 1 Killaspugbrone Church. 24 hours. Scrappy ruin of a 12th century church, almost engulfed by sand dunes and unsafe to enter; the cemetery remained in use to the 1960s. The name means "Church of Bishop Brón" who was a contemporary of St Patrick, indicating a church on this site since the 6th century. The beach here is called "Nun's Beach". You have to cross the airstrip to get here but that's not a problem. (updated Sep 2020)
  • 2 Dolly's Cottage is a picturesque thatched cottage built in 1800. It's open to visit June-Aug Sa Su 10:30-13:00, 14:00-17:00.
  • 3 Strandhill Beach is on the west-facing coast exposed to the Atlantic wind and waves. This is the place for surfing; there's nice sand but it's a bit blowy and lumpy for a family day at the seaside. Tourist literature warns against swimming here because of currents, which spares them from having to mention the sewage outflow north end of the beach.
  • 4 Culleenamore is the sheltered beach south of the golf course on Ballysadare Bay. It's a bit of a walk to reach it, but it's much better for kiddy-paddling, as it escapes the waves of Strandhill Beach and the currents of Sligo Bay. Seals haul out on the sands, and there's sometimes horse racing.
  • 5 Cummeen Strand is the start of the "Long Strand" route, the recommended way to Coney Island. It's also called Dorrin's Strand, for an island resident who unfortunately didn't pay heed to the tide times; but nowadays that's the name of the street with Dolly's Cottage so Satnav would lead you astray.
  • 6 Coney Island is a tidal island that can be reached by the 3 km crossing from Cummeen Strand. The sand is firm enough to drive across, but you'll pick up a lot of salt, consider parking up and walking. Check tide times in advance, for instance Easytide offers free predictions seven days ahead. (Pick Sligo Oyster Island as your reference port, and adjust for daylight saving time if applicable.) Set off 2-3 hours before the bottom of the tide, and be on your way back an hour after it turns. There are 14 sturdy guide markers across the sands aligned with Black Rock lighthouse, each looking like the market cross of a drowned village. The island's name means rabbits, and there are lots of them, almost as many as there are places named "Coney Island". (The one in New York was similarly infested, and probably named from the old Dutch word for rabbits.) A handful of folk live here but the island pub is closed.
  • Maguins Island is the small tidal island seen to the west across the sands. It can be reached by the "Short Strand" crossing from Killaspugbrone to Coney Island, but there's nothing to see there. This isn't recommended as a short cut to Coney Island as you have to splosh through a channel, which will flood before it cuts off the "Long Strand" path.
  • Oyster Island is in the permanent channel east of Coney Island (it's private property), and north you can make out "The Metal Man," a navigation pointer. Boats from Rosses Point sail by.
  • 7 Knocknarea is the flat-topped mountain to the south, a 327 m / 1073 ft slab of limestone. At its summit is a large cairn that's believed to date from 3000 BC and to contain a Neolithic passage tomb, and there are several smaller graves and megaliths nearby. The direct path from Strandhill is a brute, 15 km there and back, steep and muddy. The best footpath is from Primrose Grange to the southeast, see Sligo.

Do

  • Surf shacks lining the Atlantic beach are Strandhill (aka West Coast) Surf School (with accommodation, see Sleep), Rebelle Surf and IsurfIreland.
  • Strandhill Golf Club is 18 holes, 6200 yards, par 70, visitors' round €30.
  • Seaweed baths are available here as in other coast resorts, see County Sligo#Do for description.
  • Warriors Run is a 15 km race over mixed terrain from Strandhill up the steep slopes of Knocknarea and down again. The next event is on Sat 28 Aug 2021.
  • Strandhill Guitar Festival is no longer held, and plans for a banjo festival have so far come to nothing. Ukeleles maybe?

Buy

  • Centra convenience store is within the filling station, open daily 07:30-22:00.
  • Strandhill People's Market is on Sundays 11:00-16:00. Is this what the future looks like for all those regional airports opened in the golden age of budget flights? Did Ryanair ever tout this place as "Donegal South"? The market is within a hangar of Sligo Airport, which closed to commercial aviation in 2011 - it still handles private planes and is the base for the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter. Follow Airport Road R277 north from the village.

Eat

  • Strand Bar & Restaurant is down Shore Road by the beach. It's open daily 10:30-23:30.
  • Shells Cafe is opposite Strand Bar. It's licensed, and open daily 09:00-18:00.
  • Burger Shack is behind Strand Bar, open W-Th 17:00-21:00, F-Su 15:00-21:00.
  • The Venue is a steak and seafood restaurant on Top Road R292. It's open daily 12:30-21:30.
  • Dunes Bar on Top Road has food and accommodation.

Drink

  • See above. The Draft House pub has closed down.

Sleep

  • Strandhill Camping and Caravan Park is open April-Sept, +353 71 916 8111, tent or caravan €24 / night. They also run a similar park at Rosses Point across the estuary.
  • 1 Strandhill Lodge (Surf 'n Stay), Shore Road F91 T205, ☏ +353 71 916 8313, ✉ info@surfnstay.ie. Lodge and hostel accompanying the surf school, package deals available. Twin room €45, dorm €15 ppn. (updated Sep 2020)
  • 2 Strandhill Lodge & Suites, Top Road, ☏ +353 71 912 2122. Rooms for B&B or self-catering. B&B double €100. (updated Sep 2020)

Connect

Decent mobile and 4G signal from all Irish carriers. As of Sept 2020, 5G has reached Sligo town but doesn't extend to Strandhill.

Go next

  • Sligo is the base for the north of the county, with sights such as Lough Gill, Glencar and Benbulbin.
  • Ballymote is in an area of impressive megaliths, the best being Carrowkeel.



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