Day 7. Sligo Oyster Experience

Starting the day in Strandhill, Sligo we drew back the curtains to beautiful views across the bay and after enjoying a delicious breakfast buffet we checked out of Strandhill Lodge and Suites.  Leaving there, we took the car the short distance down to the beach where we were pleased to find free parking.

Views from Strandhill Lodge & Suites, Strandhill
Views from our balcony

It was a lovely spot for an early morning walk and although there were intermittent rain showers blowing through, nothing could take away from the natural beauty as we watched the waves rolling onto the shore.  The beach is renowned for having some of the best surfing conditions in Ireland and there were several surf schools and hire shops dotted along the seafront.

Strandhill beach, County Sligo
Walking along Strandhill Beach

Our walk continued along to one of the Wild Atlantic Way discovery points with an information board and impressive views across Sligo Bay and inland to Knocknarea Mountain.

Strandhill Beach Discovery Point, Wild Atlantic Way
Strandhill Beach Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way

Knocknarea is one of Sligo’s most distinctive features, monolithic in appearance at 327m (1,073 ft) high it dominates the skyline and is visible from miles around when not shrouded in mist.

Knocknarea Mountain, Sligo
Knochnarea Mountain

Having blown the cobwebs away with our bracing walk, we set off in search of oysters.  Sligo Oyster Experience is based in Strandhill and at 11.00 a.m. we met up with our tour guide Aisling and the other people booked on the tour.  The experience begins with a 15 minute walk along the rugged Sligo coast with Aisling explaining the history of Sligo’s native oysters along the way.

Walking to the Sligo Oyster Experience
Walking to the Oyster Farm with Aisling

On arrival at the oyster farm we were introduced to Aisling’s husband Glenn who runs the operation and he guided us through how oysters are cultivated and what makes the Sligo area suited for oyster farming.

Sligo Oyster Farm
Oyster trestles close to shore

We learnt that it typically takes 5 to 6 years for an oyster to develop and grow ready for market.  Glenn showed us how juvenile oysters are placed in nylon mesh bags and hung from trestles in the shallow waters of the natural harbour.  Looking out towards Coney Island we could see many oyster beds, which along with the numerous inlets provide ideal conditions for the culture of shellfish.

Sligo Oyster Experience
Machinery to clean the oyster shells

We learnt that as the oysters grow they are brought back to shore at least once a year to be size graded and placed into new bags with sufficient room for another years growth.  When they reach market size they are then harvested, cleaned, sorted and packed live in ice boxes ready for dispatch.  Sligo oysters are sought after worldwide with large orders regularly shipped as far away as Russia and Asia.

Grading machinery at the Sligo Oyster Farm
Grading machinery at the Oyster Farm

After our tour we were led into an attractive courtyard where we were given a shucking demonstration by Glenn and Aisling.  Shucking was a new word for me and if you didn’t know either, it’s the process of opening the oyster shell to reveal the delicate meat inside.

Shucking oysters at Sligo Oyster Experience
Aisling demonstrating how to open the oyster shells

The tour then concluded with tastings of the freshest oysters from farm to table served with a selection of condiments including a delectable seaweed dressing.  Also on offer were crackers, Irish seaweed cheese, grapes and Sligo Arethusa oatmeal stout making it a good value experience at €45.

Sampling the oysters at Sligo Oyster Experience
Sampling the fresh oysters

Before arriving, I knew little or nothing about oysters except that they are one of the most coveted of seafoods but I soon came to appreciate their popularity from the sweet flavour of each slurp of the shell.  If you are nervous or uncertain about trying oysters there’s no need to be, I’ll certainly be ordering them in restaurants from now on!

Voya Seaweed Baths, Strandhill, Sligo
Voya Seaweed Baths

After returning to the car, we drove back to Strandhill beach which had come to life and was much busier than earlier, so much so that it took us several minutes to find a parking space.  We had come back to try yet another new experience but one rather different from oysters.

Voya Seaweed Baths, Strandhill, Sligo
My seaweed filled bath

Located on Strandhill promenade is Voya Seaweed Baths where we had booked a one hour session.  I hadn’t a clue what to expect as I was led into a beautiful private room complete with a Victorian style free standing bath and steam cubicle.  The friendly attendant explained how everything worked and suggested spending the first few minutes in the steam cubicle as this would help to open the pores.

Individual steam cubicles at Voya Seaweed bathhouse
Individual steam cubicles in each room of the bathhouse

I took her advice and then immersed myself into a bath of wild organic seaweed.  It was blissful laying back soaking in the bath water, occasionally letting more hot water trickle in to top up the temperature.  The time flew by so it was just as well there was a clock facing the bath so that I knew when I needed to get out.

Voya Seaweed products at Voya Seaweed Baths, Strandhill
Voya seaweed products on offer at the Seaweed Baths

Bathers can either shower after bathing or better still leave the oils to soak in and work their magic, so I did just that which left my skin feeling silky smooth.  The seaweed bath was an opportunity to relax and unwind and we both enjoyed the experience immensely.  A new spa lounge and reception area is currently under construction where clients will be able to relax with a herbal tea after bathing.  For the moment, complimentary drinks are available from their pop-up cafe outside.

Shells Cafe, Strandhill Co. Sligo
Shells Cafe on Strandhill’s seafront

Located next door to Voya is Shells Cafe so we popped in there next for a bite to eat.  It’s a gem of a seaside cafe and even on a mid-week afternoon it was so popular that there was a queue for tables.

Lunch at Shells Cafe, Strandhill, Sligo
Our delicious lunch at Shells Cafe

My nacho salad with fresh leaves, peppers, avocado and lime was to die for and I think the same could be safely said for the BLT sandwich across the table.  We rounded off our lunch with large cappuccinos and then had a look in their attractive little gift shop next door filled with local arts, crafts and foodie delicacies.

Sligo town centre by the River Garavogue
Sligo’s picturesque riverbank

We couldn’t visit Sligo without having a proper look around it’s county town so we then hopped back in the car and drove into Sligo town centre.  It looked quite different from the previous evening but equally attractive as we wandered its streets where we came across many traditional shop fronts which I find so attractive.

Hyde Bridge, Sligo
Hyde Bridge crossing the River Garavogue, Sligo

The river winds its way through the centre and along both sides of Hyde Bridge are rows of cafes and bars with outdoor terraces to take in the lovely views.  The centre is compact and easily walkable.

Statue of W.B. Yeats in Sligo town centre
The statue of poet W.B. Yeats in the town centre

There’s a statue outside Ulster Bank of the world famous Irish poet and Nobel Laureate W.B. Yeats who drew inspiration from Sligo town’s charm.  It was erected in 1989 on the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

The ruins of Sligo Abbey
The ruins of Sligo Abbey in the town centre

Also of interest nearby are the ruins of Sligo Abbey which we would have liked to have explored but was closed so we just peered through the iron railings surrounding it.  I very much liked the feel of Sligo and it’s yet another place I would happily return to.

Traditional shop fronts in Sligo town centre
Traditional shop fronts in the town centre

It was then onto our next destination just north of the centre at Rosses Point where we were spending the night at the Yeats Country Hotel.

Yeats Country Hotel, Rosses Point, Sligo
Yeats Country Hotel at Rosses Point

First impressions were good as we entered the spacious lobby where we were welcomed by Marie on reception who speedily checked us in so that we were soon heading up to our room.  The hotel has 98 rooms many of which have recently been refurbished.  Our spacious room was beautifully appointed with large bay windows overlooking the sea, a comfortable sofa and attractive soft furnishings.

Our beautiful room at Yeats Country Hotel, Rosses Point, Sligo
Our beautiful room at the Yeats Country Hotel

Rosses Point is an old seafaring village and whilst it was still light we took the opportunity to have a walk around the peninsula.  To one side of the hotel stands the County Sligo Golf Club, a challenging links course complimenting the natural beauty of the area.

Waiting on the shore, Rosses Point, Sligo
Waiting on the Shore statue at Rosses Point

On following the path around the bay our attention was drawn to a bronze statue entitled ‘Waiting on the Shore’.  This highly evocative statue of a woman with her arms outstretched to sea pays tribute to the men who sailed the seas of the west coast of Ireland and to the women who waited patiently at home praying for their safe return.

Rosses Point, Sligo with views of Benbulben Mountain
Views of Benbulben Mountain from Rosses Point

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along this unspoilt stretch of coastline taking in the stunning views out to sea with the backdrop of Benbulben Mountain in the distance.  Benbulben’s shape is very distinctive with its large flat top and is often referred to as Ireland’s very own version of Table Mountain.

Rosses Point, Sligo Bay
Rosses Point, Sligo Bay

We spotted two ladies taking a swim in the Atlantic Ocean, better them than me as it must have been very chilly so late in the year.  A walk was quite enough for us followed by a relaxing pre dinner glass of wine in our lovely room.

Rosses Point Beach Discovery Point, Sligo
Rosses Point Beach Discovery Point

We opted to eat in the hotel’s cosy Winery Bar and Grill with its open log fire.  Service was friendly and efficient and we both decided on seafood starters of a smoked salmon salad and tempura prawns, tasting fresh and flavoursome.

Sea view room, Yeats Country Hotel, Rosses Point, Sligo
Pre-dinner drinks in our room at Yeats Country Hotel

We followed these up with slow cooked Irish stew and pasta Carbonara which again were faultless.  We couldn’t manage a dessert so instead took our coffees into the main lounge where live weekend music was taking place with the talented Kevin Cassidy, which we enjoyed listening to feeling cosy in front of an open fire.

Delicious starters in the Winery Bar and Grill at Yeat's Country Hotel, Sligo
Delicious starters served in the Winery Bar and Grill

It had been another memorable day enjoying some of the best that County Sligo has to offer, what an adventure our Wild Atlantic Way journey was turning out to be!

 

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55 thoughts on “Day 7. Sligo Oyster Experience

  1. I just need to first say this … your room looks absolutely lovely!! So luxurious and spacious!
    As for the oysters, I’m not the biggest fan – I was a tour guide long ago on a diamond mine where they also had a big oyster farm. I had to take the visitors to these oyster farms where we arranged a tasting session … sometimes I had to demonstrate how to eat these (and I can’t say that I really enjoyed it) … but I had to do what I had to do 😉. But as for your seaweed bath … oh yes, I would love that very much!
    A lovely post, thanks Marion!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a pleasure to visit your blog and enjoy your tours with you. You give a lot of detail about the interesting places you visit and beautifully illustrate the journey for us. The scenery and towns have that charm of history though the beach looked disappointing after the Pacific tropical beach scenes I’m familiar with.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such an interesting and unique experience that must have been! So interesting to read about the process of oysters. I’m not sure I’d go for a seaweed bath, it seems like all those pieces would tickle me far more than calm me. Sligo looks like a lovely town well worth a good long walk. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Meg, the Oyster experience was fascinating and tasting them afterwards was delicious. The seaweed in the bath wasn’t slimy or prickly like you find washed up on beaches and though it seemed a bit strange getting into murky water, it was so relaxing and I definitely noticed my skin felt softer afterwards.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating account, Marion. Sligo is full of atmophere which you capture so well. Stayed in Yeats County Hotel many moons ago, arriving just before midnight as our car had stalled on every hill all the way from Dublin! Boy were we happy to see that hotel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your interest in this post Shane and great to learn that you have stayed at he same hotel albeit ages ago. Oysters were a mystery to me before the tour but I learnt a lot, especially that I lived slurping them! The Sligo scenery is so appealing too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Some varied and unique experiences here, Marion. The Oyster Experience looks fascinating, would definitely be up for that. Though my interest wouldn’t extend to eating one, can’t stand the stuff ha ha. I’d. much rather go for the dishes you show later in the article. I’d also love to try the seaweed bath, right up my street. More fine landscapes to savour too, looks like you had a fine time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your interest in this post on Sligo Leighton. Oysters were a mystery to me until we took part in he experience but I loved slurping them. I’m not into cockles, mussels or clams but I do love crab and prawns! The seaweed bath was so relaxing and it wasn’t a bit like the slimy stuff washed up on our beaches!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a day of varied experiences. While the oyster operation would have been fascinating, not sure I could have been enticed to slurp the local delicacy. Not a shellfish fan. Could be my prairie upbringing. The scenery looks spectacular in this area Marion. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You have experienced many local curiosities. I smiled when I saw Yeats’ statue. The first time I came to Sligo I could not find it though I was standing where it was supposed to be. In fact it had been moved for building work. I found it back in subsequent years.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Looks like you covered a good bit of some of the most wonderful places that there is to see and do in Sligo, Strandhill and the rejuvenating Voya Seaweed Bath including. I’ve never been to the Oyster farm, but the little coastal path leading to it is one of our favourite places to go for a walk and for a swim. Instead of turning right, we continue to the left where the trail leads to another secluded beach and church ruins. You can actually almost always see some of the locals going for a dip there, even during the winter month. Have a nice day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We enjoyed Sligo so much Aiva and I would love to return again to explore more. I thought Sligo Town was very pretty especially by the river. Getting out of the town centre car park by Tesco was a real bottleneck though and we seemed to get stuck in traffic ages so the town must be a very popular centre.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I hope you get to return to explore more, Marion! 🥰The town centre carpark by Tesco can be constantly congested, it’s our main carpark with limited spaces- the issue of parking has been in discussion for years without any changes 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve heard good things about Sligo, but I’ve never been there. The art of shucking oyster is one that I’m keen to learn about, as I love oysters; Sligo looks to be a seafood paradise, and I’m glad you had a wonderful time in this part of Ireland!

    Liked by 3 people

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