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The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2024 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 17 (Sligo and Leitrim) – The Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail, the highest waterfall in Ireand and more

Day 17 sees us explore lots of Sligo.

We’ll be kicking things off with a walk (hopefully your legs aren’t too sore from yesterday), then a spin out to a waterfall, food and one of the best coastal walks in the county.

Let’s get cracking!

1 – The Queen Maeve Trail

// Your hotel to Knocknarea Mountain – 20-minute drive (arrive for 10:00) //

Knocknarea Mountain Walk

Photo by Alison Crummy

You’ll have seen this trail feature in our guide to the best things to do in Sligo.

We’re going to take the Queen Maeve Trail up Knocknarea Mountain, which should take us around 1 and a half hours to complete.

You’ll see this mountain dominating the Sligo skyline from many angles, so you should get a eyeful of it from the distance as you approach.

When you leave the car park at Knocknarea, follow the path along the bog bridge all the way until you reach the summit.

You’ll be treated to panoramic views of Sligo from the top.

2 – Fish, chips and lots of coffee in Shell’s Cafe

Knocknarea to Shell’s Cafe – 11-minute drive (arrive to the Shell’s for around 12:30)

shells cafe sligo strandhill

Photo via Go Strandhill

The chances are you’ll be pretty damn hungry after your climb, so we’re going to head for food and coffee straight after.

Fish and chips by the sea at Shell’s Café is a little slice of magic.

Eat up, grab and coffee (and a cake, if you like) and walk outside to soak up a lungful of sea air after.

3 – The highest waterfall in Ireland

// Shell’s to Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, or ‘the Devil’s Chimney’, 30-minute drive – (arrive for 14:30) //

At 150m Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, or ‘the Devil’s Chimney’ as it’s sometimes referred to, is Ireland’s highest waterfall.

The name ‘the Devil’s Chimney’ comes from when the waterfall gushes upwards following rainfall when the wind blows from the south.

We’re going to head off on the 45-minute walk that’ll take us up to see it (note, it doesn’t flow during dry weather. Your best bet is to visit if there has been rainfall).

You’ll find the entrance on the road towards Glencar Waterfall. Parking is reasonably limited, however, so you may need to park at Glencar and walk back (takes about 22 minutes).

The hike up to the Devil’s Chimney is moderately strenuous, but you’ll be rewarded with views of the surrounding valley and Glencar lake on your way.

4 – Glencar Waterfall (Leitrim)

// Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird to Glencar Waterfall – 5-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Our next stop takes us outside of Sligo and into Leitrim.

If you’re familiar with the work of W.B. Yeats, you may recall mention of a line in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’ that goes, ‘Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glen-Car’.

This is the perfect place to spend some time and heal a pounding head by listening to the music of the water as it tumbles into the water from above.

5 – Parke’s Castle

// Glencar Waterfall to Parke’s Castle – 20-minute drive (arrive for 17:00) //

This restored early 17th-century plantation era castle in Leitrim boasts an absolute wealth of historical tales and insights to life in Ireland in days gone by.

For visitors looking to learn more about Ireland’s history and the islands connections to British rule, Parke’s Castle is a must.

Facilities include a visitor center and optional guided tours.

6 – Food and a bed for the night

// Parke’s Castle to the Glassdoor Hotel (Sligo) – 20-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //

We’re going to head back into Sligo for the night.

If you’d like to spend some more time in Leitrim, here’s a guide that’s packed with tonnes of things to do.

Check into your hotel, chill for a bit and then grab some dinner in the Kitchen Restaurant.

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Leeann Nolan

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

Hi Keith Thank you so much for all the work you have done on The Irish Road Trip. I have used much of it to plan my 7 week trip to Ireland in 2024. It has been invaluable :)

Mick Bourke

Sunday 24th of September 2023

G’day Keith-thanks for your trip. My wife and I will be over there in late April and most of May (about a month in total before heading to Scotland for a couple of weeks). I think I’ll be using your trip (which is great (as also is the additional info at the bottom)) as the basis for ours, however, I would like to do abit more of the inland (like a figure eight of the island). Do you have any suggestions?

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hey Mick,

Is there anywhere in particular you have in mind with the inland section?



MIchael Katekar

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

A big thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this blog. Great information. I don't think we can keep up with your pace but will certainly take up many of your suggestions.

Isabella Dennison

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Good day Keith,

Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.

Thank you

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Isabell!

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.

If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.


Jodie Wilson

Sunday 26th of March 2023

First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.

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