Stand Up Paddle Guide to County Sligo by Paul Byrne

County Sligo

County Sligo is a watermans dream. The beaches at Strandhill and Enniscrone, County Sligo Ireland are great for seasoned SUP surfers, downwiders but also perfect for learners, The County Sligo has a strong surfing tradition with many locals and visitors taking to the water whenever the Atlantic does its thing. Plus when the Atlantic is not playing fair County Sligo is packed with poetry, myth and folklore into its countryside’s lush splendour, this is much as any shamrock-lover and archaeologist could hope for. It was Sligo that most inspired the Nobel laureate, poet and dramatist William Butler (WB) Yeats (1865–1939). SUP Paddler Paul Byrne gives TotalSUP the scoop on places to be on and off the water on the Irish Atlantic coast.

Paul’s Link to Sligo

There are few spots on Irelands west coast that I would like to call my spot, but of them all my favourite has got to be County Sligo.

I first visited Sligo as a university student chasing the elusive perfect days surf. From where I live in Lucan, Co. Dublin it’s the closest surf coastline to my home. Holidays, long weekends and day trips became a regular occurrence. Today I have many friends and acquaintances who live in the county and still enjoy every trip west like it was my first. If there was anywhere in Ireland that I was to move to it would be there.

Local riders and SUP community?

Sligo has a big surf scene. There are lots of locals to be found in the many surf beaches and reefs, if you come at the weekend and at holiday time there are a lots more warriors taking to the water to feed their addiction.

Of all the coastal counties, Co Sligo has the greatest population of SUP Surfers. There is a great network of schools and providers in the area to provide lessons and guide the travelling supper in the right direction.

Considering the rapid growth of SUP in the Sligo waves the locals have been very welcoming, and both communities co-exist and share the aquatic delights with very little tension.

Renting a SUP boards and SUP gear in Sligo?

There are some very professional operators in the area providing lessons and courses. They will also take care travelling surfers rental needs and point you in the right direction to score some great sessions, without upsetting anybody or anything. Here is a short list of those that I personally know that you will get great customer service and professional instruction.

Harbour SUP and Sail in Enniscrone. It is also an excellent ASI School providing full range of education packages. Range of rental equipment available and expert guide for all things surf. There is also Perfect Day SUP School in Strandhill, it is also a ASI School, offering expert advice and education since SUP arrived in this area. Inland trips on the nearby lakes a specialty. Finally there is Sligo Bay SUP in Grange, This school will take you to some of the unspoilt secrets of North Sligo. Quality ASI Instruction and rental equipment all available.

Are there any SUP schools in this area?

Yes, Sligo has some excellent SUP Schools providing everything form taster sessions right up to Instructor Training. Mikee and Lois at Harbour SUP and Sail, Tom at Perfect Day, or Niall at Sligo Bay SUP will make sure that your trip or visit is a memorable one, and that you are equipped with the knowledge and equipment to have the safest and most enjoyable SUP experience possible!

Any major local SUP events?

We have the IrishSUP Surf Classic happening in Aughris, Co Sligo. This is the biggest and most successful SUP Surf contest weekend in Europe held in April…possibly the world!!! It is 100% SUP specific, and the philosophy behind the gathering is to celebrate what we all love to do, which is…..SUP SURF…!!! Our base for the event is The Beach Bar, another hidden gem Sligo has on offer. This is a must visit for anybody visiting the area at any time.

Another big event is Mikees Connacht Battle for the Paddle in Enniscrone. This is a long weekend of SUP Racing and SUP Surfing.

Visit either event to see that we take our SUP seriously here in Ireland!

Best SUP spots

There are many excellent surf beaches and reefs all along this coastline. If you are prepared to do a little looking around you can find spots all to yourself. The local SUP surfers tend to favour a few spots where both they and the local surfers co-exist nicely. These spots would be at Enniscrone Beach, Aughris Beach, Strandhill, and Streedagh. If you are a visitor to the area make sure you seek the local knowledge of the schools mentioned above.

Best Downwind Spots

If you are looking to do some race training or downwind sessions this coastline is your oyster. Mikees crew will often paddle from Enniscrone, and some will take to the local lakes only a short drive out of Sligo town. This whole area has yet to really take off. The potential around here is enormous!!!

And as a tourist……..

Emm…not sure I am the best to ask this question. Most of my time spent here is in or on the water. Here’s a short list of things you should try do and see….

  • Have some Ice Cream at Mama Johnsons in Strandhill.
  • Have a pint of Guinness at the Beach Bar in Aughris.
  • Take a Seaweed Bath at Kilcullen’s Seaweed Bath House in Enniscrone.
  • Pop into Shells CafĂ© in Strandhill for a pre- surf breakfast or Lunch.
  • Visit WB Yeats grave in Drumcliffe churchyard.
  • Go watch the Big Wave surfers tame Mulloghmore if conditions are suitable.
  • Climb Knocknarea, in Irish mythology Knocknarea is the burial place of the beautiful Warrior Queen Maeve of Connaught.


If you do decide to go visit Sligo, please behave yourself in the water and have a great time….!!!





About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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