independent

Saturday 18 August 2018

Go back in time with Auriel

Sligo's prehistoric heritage to be explored among unique local sites

Micháel ó Domhnaill

Maritime Archaeologist Auriel Robinson has, in recent years, been involved in the promotion of walking in Sligo.

Her company Seatrails offers guided heritage tours in several diverse coastal and mountainous areas across the county. The tours suit families, special interest groups, walking groups or independent travellers who want to discover and explore the Wild Atlantic Way.

You can choose a guided walking tour or spend a day with Auriel exploring incredible sites or choose to go on horseback by the golden shores of north county Sligo.

Along the trails, she will focus your attention on unique archaeological sites, local history and folklore, the natural environment and fossils. You will experience and explore ancient sites and monuments in beautiful places that you never knew existed. Sligo has a very interesting and ancient settlement history, stretching as far back as Mesolithic times before the first farmers arrived. Prehistoric sites dot the Sligo coastline and its mountains and for some reason, there seems to be a concentration of megalithic tombs built during the stone age around Sligo and its bays.

Carrowmore megalithic sites in the country is far older than any other passage tomb complex in Ireland and is situated just outside Sligo town. Knocknarea Mountain towers over this landscape where Queen Maeve of Connaught is said to be buried.

One of the special trails that Seatrails offers is called the 'Strandhill Shellfish Experience'. Here, you will be introduced to one of the most beautiful peninsulas of the county (Coolera) near Strandhill where you will do a pretty coastal trail arriving at a prehistoric shell midden site. Fresh mussels are cooked in a pot, literally between the rocks beside the site which has been there for thousands of years.

You can taste the fruits of the Atlantic right where people gathered for millennia. This experience is done in collaboration with local restaurateur Anthony Gray. The experience is also part of the Sligo Food Trail.

Every trail Seatrails offers is in a quiet or scenic spot where you can get away from it all, relax, take it all in and imagine how life was in Sligo long ago. Breathe in fresh Atlantic air or the scent of wild herbs and blooming flora in sand dunes or in the rugged mountains.

Skylarks hover overhead or plovers tip up through the bell heather or marram grass. A variety of rare bees busy themselves searching for pollen through vibrant fuchsia along quiet country lanes. Mountain sheep roam freely while you explore ancient megalithic tombs perched up on karst limestone ridges in the Bricklieve Mountains in south County Sligo. These are special places!

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