Manchán Magan writer and broadcaster is undertaking two routes in County Sligo. His first trek is the Benbulben forest park trail, called the Cashel Loop. The second walk takes him to Streedagh beach and Staad Abbey, where he forages for edible seaweed and discovers the historical links with the Spanish Armada.
The Benbulben forest walk is nearly 16km from Sligo town and is located just outside of the village of Grange. This part of County Sligo is on the Wild Atlantic way and is also the setting of Ireland’s best known folklore and legends. The writer WB Yeats drew on many of these stories for his poems. The woodland in Benbulben forest park is also interesting from an ecological perspective; it is a good example of Ireland’s natural biodiversity and is home to native trees, flora and fauna.
Eily Kilgannon is a retired local schoolteacher and knows well the myths and legends that derive from this part of County Sligo. Manchán also meets archeologist Sam Moore, who has a special interest in this area. In terms of ancient monuments and relics, Sligo is steeped in old history.
Emerging from the forest, Manchán takes a short second walk which starts approximately 6km from the Benbulben loop at Streedagh Beach where Manchán explores Sligo’s Armada coastline and samples some of the local wild seafood with forager Prannie Rhatigan.
The Streedagh beach coastline is the final resting place of three Armada shipwrecks and Manchán meets Eddie O’Gorman, a local historian who is an expert in Spanish Armada history. Finally, Manchán completes his walk to Staad Abbey which has existed since the early medieval period. This may not be quite a vigorous trek as others, but it is certainly different and a very diverse day out.