A visit to Lissadell House is one of the most overlooked things to do in Sligo, in my opinion.
A combination of museum and home, Lissadell House was once the abode of the Gore-Booths, with two of the 5 siblings being Constance and Eva, revolutionary and suffragette, respectively.
The house was forever immortalised by William Butler Yeats in the opening lines of the poem ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz‘.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from the various things to do at Lissadell House to where to visit nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Lissadell House
Although a visit to Lissadell House in Sligo is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Lissadell House sits on the southern side of Maugherow Penninsula in North Sligo and overlooks Drumcliff Bay. It’s a 20-minute drive from Rosses Point and Mullaghmore, a 15-minute drive from Sligo Town and a 30-minute drive from Strandhill.
2. Admission and opening hours
Ticket options include a full ticket with prices at €36 for a family of four or from €6 to €14 for individuals. The option for grounds and exhibitions only range from €5 to €26. Tour times start at 10:30 am and hourly until 12.30 pm and then again at 2pm until the last tour at 5 (prices and times may change).
3. Plenty to see and do
Whether it’s the official tour of the house conducted by your tour guide in full 19th Century costume or wandering around the gardens, there’s plenty to see and do here. The exhibitions in the Coach House cover the 1916 Rebellion, the Battle of Waterloo, and art by Jack B. Yeats, the brother of W.B.Yeats.
About Lissadell House
Lissadell House is located in County Sligo and was the last house in Ireland to be built in neo-classical Greek revivalist style. It was built for Sir Robert Gore-Booth between 1830 and 1835 and remained in the family until its sale in 2004.
At the time of its purchase, the house and gardens were in a neglected state, but since 2004, the new owners have carried out an extensive restoration, and Lissadell is once again a shining slice of Sligo history.
Among its claims to fame is that the house was once the childhood home of Countess Markievicz. She was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and the first woman to be elected to Dáil Eireann, the Irish Parliament.
Famous visitors included WB Yeats, the Duke of Wellington, and, in recent times, Leonard Cohen performed a concert on the estate in 2010.
Things to do at Lissadell House
One of the beauties of visiting Lissadell House is that there’s plenty of things to do in and around the grounds, that make it a great spot for a day trip.
Below, you’ll find everything from the tour and the gardens to artwork, the 1916 exhibition and much more.
1. Admire the architecture
In a time when the lavish Palladian architectural style was popular among Ireland’s Elite, Lissadell House presented an austere face to the country. It was the last of its style, neo-classical Greek Revivalist, to be built in Ireland and consists of two-storeys above a basement.
The architect was Frances Goodwin from London, and in his design, he followed the more restrained style that was just falling out of popularity. Its austere, almost forbidding appearance didn’t carry through to the house’s interior, which had more warmth and intimacy, mainly due to the large windows that allowed lots of natural light into the rooms.
2. Then head for a walk around the gardens
There’s something about a Walled Garden that makes my soul sing, and the restored Victorian walled gardens, aka the Kitchen Gardens, at Lissadell are beautiful.
I say ‘gardens’, but they’re 2.5 acres, so be prepared for a walk if you want to see everything. In 1840 the gardens supplied the house with all its fruit and vegetables, and since the restoration began in 2004, the owners have been replanting heritage fruit and flowers.
The Alpine rockery gardens, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, cover 2 acres, and on a summer’s day, the rockeries blaze with exquisite colour. Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth, Countess Markkievicz’s brother, was responsible for creating the Alpine rockeries in the 1890s.
3. See the 1916 exhibition
The events of the 1916 Rising are commemorated in this exhibition in the Coach House. They include, amongst many other exhibits, photographs of the immediate aftermath, a manuscript of plans for the Rising written by Countess Markevicz, and a letter written by Padraig Pearse to his mother on the morning of his execution.
A replica of the original Irish flag is also on display; a green background with the letters Irish Republic written in white and orange. Buttons from the uniforms of the volunteers as well as bullets retrieved from the site of the Rising are sewn into the replica.
4. Visit the Yeats gallery
I must admit I’m a great fan of Jack B. Yeats, particularly his horse/races paintings, so this exhibition is of great interest to me. Jack, a Sligo native, visited Lissadell with his brother William B. Yeats and the exhibition features oils from a selection of public and private collections.
Many of the paintings have never been shown before, and others rarely. The exhibition highlights paintings covering 60 years, from his early work in Sligo to one of his final works in 1956.
Yeats was known for his expressionist style that began with realistic works and on to an almost apocalyptic style towards the end of his life.
Note: pictured above is nearby Drumcliffe Church (10-minute drive), which is the final resting place of Sligo’s famous poet.
5. Discover the story of Countess Markievicz
Constance Gore-Booth was not one for sitting around twiddling her thumbs. Even as a young wife and mother, she yearned for something to live and die for. She became increasingly political and involved with helping Dublin’s poor.
In 1913, she opened a soup kitchen in the ITGWU headquarters at Liberty Hall during the Great Lock Out. She was a commissioned officer in the Irish Citizen Army and fought in St Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rising, and her notes on the plan for the Rising are on view in the Countess Markievicz exhibition at Lissadell.
She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but an amnesty secured her release. Afterwards, she became the first woman to be elected to Westminster and also to Dáil Eireann.
6. Grab something tasty from the tea rooms
Don’t leave Lissadell without visiting the tea rooms where you can have a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of wine while enjoying the sunshine. Much of the homemade food is made with fresh produce grown in the Kitchen Gardens.
There’s a small gift shop too where you can pick up a memento to take home with you to remind you that on the West coast of Ireland, there’s a big, brooding house with a great story.
Things to do near Lissadell House
One of the benefits of taking a spin out to Lissadell House is that, when you’re finished, you’re a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Sligo.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Lissadell (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Historical sites
2. Walks, walk and more walks
Some of the best walks in Sligo are a short drive from Lissadell House. Here are our favourites:
- The Devil’s Chimney (20-minute drive)
- The Benbulben Forest Walk (10-minute drive)
- Gleniff Horseshoe (20-minute drive)
- The Knocknarea Walk (30-minute drive)
- The Glencar Waterfall Walk (20 minutes away – in Leitrim)
3. Beaches galore
You’ll find some of the best beaches in Sligo a handy drive from Lissadell House. Here are our favourites:
- Streedagh Beach (15-minute drive)
- Rosses Point Beach (20-minute drive)
- Mullaghmore Beach (20-minute drive)
- Strandhill Beach (30-minute drive)
FAQs about Lissadell House in Sligo
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what is there to do at Lissadell House to whether it’s really worth visiting.
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.
Is Lissadell House worth visiting?
Yes! There’s a whole lot of history to be soaked up at Lissadell House and the gardens here are a great place for a ramble.
What is there to do at Lissadell House?
You can explore the extensive gardens, take a tour of the house, discover the story of Countess Markievicz, see the 1916 exhibition and much more.
How much is it into Lissadell House?
There are family tickets folr €36 or tickets range from €6 to €14, depending on what you choose to do (prices and times may change).
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.