The beautiful Coney Island is one of the more unique places to visit in Sligo.
The island can be reached on foot, by car or by boat, and the views of the Sligo coastline from the island make the journey well worth it.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from how to understand the Coney Island tide times (there’s a text messaging service) to what to do when you get there.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Coney Island in Sligo
So, a visit to Coney Island in Sligo needs a bit of prior planning, otherwise you could get stuck there, as many have over the years.
Here are some quick need-to-knows. Make sure to pay careful attention to the point about the Coney Island tides.
Tucked in between the Rosses Point and the Coolera Peninsula, Coney Island sits at the head of Sligo Bay. It’s the largest of 3 islands that guard the entrance to the bay from the rigors of the wild Atlantic.
2. Getting there (WARNING)
There are 2 ways to Coney Island; you can either take the boat from Rosses Point Pier, or, if you’re up for a little adventure, you can make your way over across Cummeen Strand. At low tide, a 5 km causeway is revealed, marked by 14 stone pillars. More on this below.
3. Coney Island tide times
Understanding the tide times is absolutely key, as you could easily end up getting stuck on the island… or much worse. Luckily, there’s a text messaging service that helps greatly. More on this below.
4. Rabbits galore
The name Coney Island comes from the sheer number of rabbits that call it home. Coney is an old word for rabbit, and you’ll see them hopping around at almost every turn!
About Coney Island
In its hey-day — around 1841 — Coney Island was home to 124 people, with several families spread across the 400-acre island. Over the years, many left the island for good, and in 2006, Coney Island had a population of just 6 permanent residents.
Nowadays, just one family remains permanently that can trace their history on the island back to the 1750s. Several other non-permanent residents have homes on the island, many of whom spend summer there.
Coney Island has been home to people for thousands of years, and the landscape is littered with relics from the past. Many visitors to the island seek out the elusive ‘fairy forts’, the remains of ancient stone circles and hill forts that hint at life in the prehistoric ages. Other sites of interest include the magical St Patrick’s Well, as well as his wishing chair!
The American link
In more recent history, it’s said that the famous Coney Island of New York is actually named after the Sligo original. As the story goes, the captain of the merchant ship, Arethusa — which would regularly sail between Sligo and New York — noticed that the island in New York was also crawling with rabbits. He started referring to it as Coney Island, after his own Sligo version, and apparently the name stuck!
Understanding the Coney Island tide times
So, the RNLI, an incredible charity that saves lives at sea, offer a really handy service to help you understand the Coney Island tides.
You simply text ‘Coney’ to 51155 (from the Republic of Ireland) and they reply, very quickly, with a message similar to the one on the right above.
Pay careful notice to the point in the message above that mentions weather and leaving extra time for crossing.
How to get to Coney Island
So, now you know what it’s all about, let’s take a closer look at how to get to Coney Island. If you’re getting the boat, you can sit back and relax.
If you’re making your way to the island yourself, regardless of whether you’re walking, cycling or driving, take notes!
If you’re planning to test your sea-legs, you can take a boat to Coney Island from Rosses Point Pier, just a 10-minute drive from Sligo Town. A water-taxi service operates regularly, and can be booked in advance for large groups. The journey only takes around 5 minutes, and a ‘there and back again’ tour can be arranged.
Walking to Coney Island is a fantastic way to escape from the modern world for a bit and soak up the peace and tranquility of the bay. At low tide, a causeway from Strandhill to Coney Island appears, marked by 14 hefty stone pillars. Allow at least 45 minutes to make the crossing, and be sure you’re aware of the tide times.
Reaching Coney Island by car is another fun way to get there! Many vehicles make the crossing from Strandhill to Coney Island, via Cummeen Strand (the causeway that is revealed at low tide). Once you’re happy that it’s safe to do so, simply turn off the road when you see signs for the strand, and follow the same 14 stone pillars mentioned above.
The Coney Island walk
The Coney Island walk is one of the most overlooked of the many walks in Sligo. This a great choice for anyone looking for a breath of clean, fresh air, and a moderate workout while taking in some fantastic scenery.
From Sligo Town, head towards the little fishing village of Strandhill. Before you reach the village, you’ll see a sign for Cummeen Strand pointing to a small road on your right. Follow this short road to the beach (you’ll find several spots to park up along the road).
Crossing the strand
To do the walk, the tide needs to be out or heading out (see note above about the text service – alternatively, ask locally!
With the tide out, the sandy causeway stretches ahead of you all the way to Coney Island, marked by 14 stone pillars. It’s worth wearing waterproof shoes for the crossing, which generally takes about 45 minutes.
Enjoying Coney Island
Once you reach the island, you’ll find a road that takes you into the heart of the island. Follow this to the cluster of houses that make up the village, where you’ll also find the pub — typically open sporadically on Thursdays to Sundays during summer.
Once you’re on the island, there’s no set route to follow. Simply wander the paths and fields for a couple of hours to see what you find! Carty’s Strand, in particular, is stunning.
Things to do near Coney Island
One of the beauties of Coney Island is that it’s close to many of the best things to do in Sligo, from hikes and walks to scenic drives and mighty food.
Below, you’ll find some of our favourites, from food in Strandhill, historical sites, more walks and some lively towns.
1. Food in Strandhill
Strandhill is a charming seaside village, and it’s home to some great cafes, pubs, and restaurants. Fresh, locally caught seafood features heavily on the menu, but you’ll also find lots of other options. See our Strandhill restaurants guide for the best spots for a feed.
2. Walks, walks and more walks
Sligo is a great spot for a walking holiday, with routes to suit everyone. Here are some great rambles near Coney Island:
3. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
No trip to Sligo would be complete without checking out Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. Home to more than 30 ancient monuments dating back thousands of years, it’s the largest collection of neolithic tombs and stone circles in Ireland.
4. Lissadell House
Built in the 1830s, Lissadell House is widely considered one of the finest Greek Revival style mansions in Ireland. After more than 70 years of neglect, the house has recently undergone a huge restoration period, and is once again open to the public. Steeped in history and surrounded by beautiful grounds, it’s a fascinating place to wander around and discover the past.
FAQs about Coney Island in Sligo
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how to understand the Coney Island tide times to what to see nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
How do you get to Coney Island in Sligo?
You can get to the island by boat from Rosses Point Pier or by foot or car. If visiting on foot or in a vehicle, understanding the tide times is essential.
Is Coney Island worth visiting?
Yes! The island is a great place for a bit of peace and quiet and the scenery you can soak up from here is outstanding.
Is there much to do on the island?
You can head off on the island walk, see the lighthouse, ramble along Carty’s strand and admire the views of the Sligo coastline.
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.