Anyone who knows me or any member of my huge family will know that we are incredibly proud of our Irish roots with my grandparents coming from Sligo, Roscommon and Coleraine. Since I was two years old I have been going back to Ireland every year and have many happy memories of spending many holidays in County Sligo, one of the most beautiful places in Ireland and always a welcoming and refreshing break from the city. So, you can imagine that I was excited to spend New Year here.
As soon as the plane lands at Knock Airport, with a statue of St Patrick to ensure there is a safe landing, to the friendly accent that greets you at border control, to the big hug from my grandparents who welcome me ‘home’, I get this warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach. For anybody who is Irish, has Irish roots or just loves the country will know that Ireland is in your heart regardless of where you’re born.
When I was younger Sligo was just where Grandad is from and I never fully appreciated what a gem of a place it is until I got older (rather like how I was with Birmingham). The scenery is simply stunning, mountains, loughs, rivers and beaches. Even though I am certain it is the rainiest place on earth it certainly doesn’t take anything away from the beauty of the west coast.
Strandhill beach is one of my favourite places in the world and without a doubt every time I go back ‘home’ we always do the trip to Strandhill which includes: a walk along the beach, skimming stones, going to the Strand Bar, having a seaweed bath, grabbing an ice-cream (even in winter) then sitting in the car and watching the waves come crashing in as the sun sets and the surfers are trying to catch the last few waves before it gets dark. This bank holiday Monday I went here with my grandparents for a lovely stroll along the beach to walk off the 20,000 calories consumed over the past few days and then to the Strand Bar. The Strand Bar is a cosy bar with friendly staff and a roaring fire to welcome you in from the windy and wild Atlantic coast. They had a new and improved food menu from the last time I went which includes stone baked pizzas as well as your classics like Beef & Guinness pie and Fish & Chips. And if you prefer to get your carbs from noodles and stir-fried veg rather than potatoes and cabbage then the Jade Gardens upstairs is a cracking Chinese restaurant.
Even though Sligo isn’t exactly renowned for its cocktail bars those who know my Auntie Eileen will know that drinks are plenty when we head over to her ‘bar’ (converted shed) ‘Finns Inn’ – in fact it’s better than a bar: music of your choice, alcohol of your choice (with no measures), great food (Eileen’s a trained chef) and great company, it even has a check-in on Facebook, it’s that popular! Just because I’m in ‘the middle of nowhere’ doesn’t mean I can miss out on a cocktail or two.
I am a born and bred Brummie who loves the city and have had the best time of my life in Milan but Sligo, or Sligeach in Gaelic will always have such a strong place in my heart and I hope to share this with you over some of my upcoming posts. For the meantime Happy New Year and here’s to a year filled with good health and happiness and of course cocktails along the way. I hope the craic is mighty!!
P.S.: If you enjoyed the music on the video, check out Midwest radio station which becomes the soundtrack to my visits in Sligo (also it’s the only radio station my Nan and Grandad listen to)
PSS: I also have the Midwest radio cd (thanks Nan)