We are now in County Sligo, on the central West coast of Ireland, staying in a small beachside B&B, about 20 km out of Sligo town. This B&B is right on the water front with amazing views of nearby Benbulben and Knocknarea mountains. It is also right next door to an authentic Irish bar with a thatched roof and interior wood panelling and a whole variety of jars, pots, teatowels, photos and trophys on every available space, including a 16 lb stuffed trout on the wall, The bar has been in the family for many years and is very popular with the locals. Tonight, they are celebrating the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, with a huge bonfire on the beach and traditional Irish band playing in the bar. Should be great fun!
We have been exploring the townland area where it is believed Rod's paternal great grandparents originated, which has involved some very helpful research by the Sligo genealogical association, and also finding our way along numerous very narrow back roads with the help of a local ordinance map. The townland area is largely, flat farmland with fertile soil and many small rivers, surrounded by the Ox mountain range.
County Sligo is famous for the burial place of WB Yeats at Drumcliffe at the base of the Benbulben mountain, where he was inspired to write so much of his poetry. However, the region is also well known as a very good salmon and trout fishing region. As Rod is an avid fly fisherman, there has been much time spent standing on bridges, gazing into the clear and fast running rivers, in the hope of a glimpse of another 16 lb specimen!
It has also been fascinating to discover even more megalithic monuments in this region, dating back to 4500 - 2500 BC! Many of these monuments just look like a pile of rocks on the ground, and there are a lot of rocks around here! However, some are very well preserved and protected by National Heritage, and give an amazing insight into life many many years ago. These particular megalithic passage tombs in this region were burial sites with a central wedge or portal tomb, where the bodies were cremated, surrounded by a ring of stones. It is believed these people had quite strong spiritual beliefs related to the burial of their deceased family members. It is clear that these neolithic people were also early farmers with the development of growing crops and herding animals at this time, with groups of people living and working together. Hard to imagine such sophisticated living, so long ago! Fascinating! Makes our modern time period seem pretty insignificant.