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Region Highlights: The North West

The North West of Ireland is a region of infinite variety, a paradise for hill-walkers, hikers and sporting enthusiasts. Coming down from the northernmost tip of the island in Donegal to the counties of Leitrim and Sligo, you will experience the idyllic Ireland with towns and villages, foregoing the large bustling cities.

Sligo is linked in the minds of many first and foremost with one of Ireland's most famous sons, W B Yeats. Yeats, winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature is one of the most important and most popular Irish poets ever to break onto the international stage. The rugged beauty and untamed landscape of Sligo is a recurring theme of his work and it was his love for the county that led him to instruct he be buried there. The Yeats Summer School provides tours of the parts of Sligo that feature in Yeats' poetry.

The beauty that inspired Yeats is still there today. Despite its small size Sligo has a wide variety of scenery from the Atlantic battered coastline to the Ox Mountains towering over the county in the west. Along the coast the seaside resort of Rosses Point is highly recommended and there's plenty for the visitor to do. Golf, angling, cruises and hill walking are all popular elements of any holiday in the area.

Sligo Town itself is a lively seaside town with good restaurants and pubs to cater to every taste. The narrow sloping streets of the town provide it with a character and charm not to be found in the big cities of the east and provide a gentle, cozy atmosphere unique to the northwest. Leitrim is one of Ireland's most sparsely populated and hence most unspoiled counties. Dominated by water whether in the form of the might River Shannon, the stunning Lough Allen or the spectacular Glencar Waterfall that inspired Ireland's greatest poet, Leitrim's quiet waterways and unmarred beauty will delight the most jaded of visitors.

With such beautiful waterways, it is hardly surprising that waterborne tourism is the most popular in Leitrim. Donegal, situated in the beautiful rugged mountain landscape of Ireland's North West is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. This huge county's supreme appeal lies in the natural beauty of its coast, with windswept peninsulas, precipitous cliffs and a host of golden beaches that rival any in Europe. With 9,000 years of history behind it any trek through the furrowed countryside will bring the traveler on the sites of monastic settlements, traces of the Vikings in Donegal town and ancient pre-Christian forts of the High Kings of Ulster. And along your way you are bound to come across some of what makes Donegal so unique.

Irish culture has survived and thrived here in a way it has failed to do elsewhere. Language and culture are still vibrant throughout the Gaeltacht areas of the county and foremost among these traditions is the one of welcoming strangers.

If you long to get away from it all, then Donegal is the perfect spot. With soaring sea cliffs that plummet 300 meters, deserted white sandy beaches, jaw-dropping landscapes, excellent seafood and quiet cozy pubs, Donegal forces you to sit back, slow down and admire the view. Take a day and venture out to the Slieve League Cliffs; which offer a serious up-hill hike with spectacular scenery. The North has the hills of Donegal (one could spend a week here and never run out of things to see).


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