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Holiday Travel Guide

Knocknarea showing tranquil scenes and mountains

This distinctive flat-topped hill and its mysterious summit cairn have been prominent landmarks in County Sligo’s folklore and culture for millennia.

Knocknarea (Cnoc na Riabh) is an immense monolith overlooking the green pastures of County Sligo. From Neolithic folklore to the poetry of William Butler Yeats, the grassy summit has become mythologized throughout the ages. See the 1,078-foot-tall (329-meter) hill presiding over the peninsula from across the county. Hike up the hillside and enjoy panoramic views of rolling hills and the stunning bays of the west coast from atop the mound. Inspect the enormous pile of loose stones that make up the summit cairn, which is surrounded by myth and mystery.

If you’re intrigued by the Knocknarea summit and the landscape that Yeats called “the land of heart’s desire,” make the ascent to the hill’s prominent peak. The 0.7-mile-long (1.2-kilometer) walk is steep in parts and takes approximately 30 minutes from the trailhead’s parking lot. Wander up the stony pathway past lush green pastures and open farmland. Reach a small gate, an ideal place to rest and look at the scenery unfolding behind you. Try to spot the church spire in Collooney to the south.

The path becomes more rugged after the gate and ascends steeply via a set of well-worn stairs. Reach Knocknarea’s flat peak and stroll along the stunning hilltop. Soon, you’ll see Maeve’s Tomb or Meabh’s Cairn coming into view. This 180-foot-wide (55-meter) cairn is up to 5,000 years old. Although never excavated, it is believed to contain a Neolithic passage tomb. It is woven into Irish mythology as the resting place of Queen Maeve of Connacht.

From here, enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding coast and countryside, including the Ox Mountains, Lough Gill and Slieve League. See the bays of Sligo and Ballysadare, as well as Croagh Patrick to the west if the skies are very clear. Descend from the hilltop via the same route.

Knocknarea is a 15-minute drive west of Sligo town. Park at the trailhead’s parking lot and visit the summit for free. Wear sturdy footwear for the hike, as the path is made of loose stones and can become slippery. Appreciate the archaeological site of Meabh’s Cairn from a distance.

Top things to do in Knocknarea

Top Trending Hotels Near Knocknarea

The Glasshouse
The Glasshouse
4 out of 5
Swan Point, Sligo, Sligo
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Situated on the riverfront, this hotel is steps away from Yeats Memorial Building, OConnell Street and Sligo County Museum. Quayside Shopping Centre and Famine ...
4.2/5Excellent! (912 reviews)
Glasshouse review
"Very clean & tidy, plenty of hand sanitisers in the hotel. No complaints from my perspective. Food was good & staff very helpful"

Reviewed on 13 Nov 2020

The Glasshouse
Strandhill Lodge and Suites
Strandhill Lodge and Suites
3 out of 5
Top Road, Strandhill, Sligo
The price is £108 per night from 17 May to 18 May
This family-friendly Strandhill hotel is located near the beach, within 3 mi (5 km) of Strandhill Beach and Knocknarea. Famine Memorial and Sligo Abbey are also ...
4.8/5Exceptional! (178 reviews)
Great location; great staff
"Superb staff. Lovely hotel in great location. Only negatives were the tv and bath. The tiny tv had few channels with poor quality and a remote that would not correct the aspect ratio. The bath was too shallow to be fully immersed in."

Reviewed on 8 Oct 2020

Strandhill Lodge and Suites
Riverside Hotel
Riverside Hotel
3 out of 5
Riverside, Sligo
The price is £60 per night from 22 Apr to 23 Apr
Situated in Sligo, this hotel is steps away from Model Arts and Niland Gallery and Sligo Abbey. Sligo County Museum and Yeats Memorial Building are also within ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (590 reviews)
"Lovely room, lovely staff, easy parking (if you get there when it’s not busy)"

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2020

Riverside Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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The Glasshouse
The Glasshouse
4 out of 5
Swan Point, Sligo, Sligo
The Glasshouse
Strandhill Lodge and Suites
Strandhill Lodge and Suites
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The price is £108 per night from 17 May to 18 May
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The Driftwood
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Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.