The Secret Scripture walking tour

Book a ticket for the guided Secret Scripture walking tour and discover Sligo town at the turn of the 20th century, from the perspective of one Sligo family, follow in their footsteps and see where they lived, worked and played. The Sligo secret scripture trail, is a local history and literary tour based around Sligo town. The award winning author Sebastian Barry, set his novels in Sligo town and wrote about his family who resided in Sligo at the time. This tour will take you through the streets of Sligo where the characters walked, combining the books and social history of Sligo.

Organiser: Melcoo Tours

Email: melcooireland at gmail dot com or info at melcoo dot com

Walking tour Sligo
Book a local history and literary tour of Sligo

 

Self-guided App Tours

You can also download an app I have created for the Secret Scripture tour.  The walking tour app is available on iOS and Android

Instructions:

Go to the Apple or Play store and search for Guidigo, download this free app, then search for Sligo Secret Scripture trail and sign in with a gmail, facebook or email account.

The app, guides you around several locations, the majority of which, can be reached on foot, the locations further out from the town, have been placed towards the end of the tour. We have suggested an order to explore the places but feel free to take the tour at your own pace, in whatever order suits you best. The map suggests a route of numbered stops but where you start and stop is entirely up to you. Instructions and directions are provided and you can check the map at any time, during the tour.

The tour is based around the books of author Sebastian Barry who set his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman in Sligo.

The light of evening, Lissadell

 
We visited Lissadell House in May and did the guided tour.  Lissadell House, is a big country house, located in North Sligo.  It originally belonged to the Gore-Booth family, who were Anglo Irish landlords.  They sold it to the Cassidy-Walsh family in 2004, who have since renovated it and use it as their own family home and have also managed to turn it into an interesting visitor attraction, which is open to the public from March until October each year.  This is the family home of Countess Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gore-Booth and the poet W.B. Yeats was a frequent visitor and he later wrote the poem, In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz, which refers to Lissadell House.

 

 

 

Lissadell House windows
Sash windows at Lissadell House

 

In 6th class, I had completed a history project and chose Countess Markievicz as the subject, later that same year, I visited Lissadell when I made my confirmation back in May 1992! but it wasn’t opened to the public at the time. We started off the tour in the Billiards room, there were lots of interesting old photos on the wall and memorabilia laid out on the table, which had belonged to Henry Gore-Booth, who was an Arctic explorer and the father of Constance and Eva Gore-Booth.

 

Lissadell House
Lissadell House

 

We also saw the oval shaped Gallery room, which was designed as a Music Room.  The kitchen, one of my favourite rooms to visit in big houses, is located downstairs and reminded me of Downton Abbey.

Lissadell House was designed by the architect Francis Goodwin and built in the 1830’s to a neo-classic greek revivalist style, I think the tour guide mentioned how the architecture of the house is similar to that of an ancient Greek temple.

 

Lissadell Court yard
Lissadell Courtyard which houses the Exhibition centre and Tea rooms.

 

There is a large exhibition centre located in the courtyard buildings, with galleries on Countess Markievicz, William and Jack Yeats.

If you are visiting Sligo, it is well worth a visit and this year, they also have a 1916 Easter Rising themed exhibition.

You can check out their website here for visitor opening times and to find out about special events which take place at Lissadell House.

Book the Sligo Secret Scripture Walking Tour

Guided Walking Tour – Sligo Secret Scripture

The Sligo Secret Scripture Trail, is a literary & local history tour based around Sligo town and county.  The tour takes a snapshot of Sligo in the 1920’s and 1930’s from the viewpoint of one semi-fictional family, who lived and worked in the town.  The award winning author Sebastian Barry, set his novels in Sligo town and wrote about his family who resided in Sligo at the time.  This tour will take you through the streets of Sligo where the characters walked, giving you a sense of the local history and architectural heritage of the locations during this time

Click on the contact form on the blog or send a mail to melcooireland (at) gmail dot com to book private group tours.

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The Secret Scripture trail is also available to download as an app from Guidigo.

Walking Tour App available on iOS and Android

Go to the Apple or Play store and search for Guidigo, download this free app, then search for Sligo Secret Scripture trail and sign in with gmail, facebook or email and download the tour to your smartphone.

The app, guides you around several locations, the majority of which, can be reached on foot, the locations further out from the town, have been placed towards the end of the tour. We have suggested an order to explore the places but feel free to take the tour at your own pace, in whatever order suits you best. The map suggests a route of numbered stops but where you start and stop is entirely up to you. Instructions and directions are provided and you can check the map at any time, during the tour.

The tour is loosely based around the books of author Sebastian Barry who set his novels, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman in Sligo. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have read the books to enjoy the tour and no major spoilers are revealed, as the tour combines the books, social history, fashion and architectural heritage, to paint a picture of Sligo in the 1930’s.

Benbulben Mountain Gortarowey

On a clear day when you arrive into Sligo town, you will be welcomed with stunning views of Benbulben mountain.  It forms a beautiful backdrop to the town.

Benbulben Mountain Gortarowey Walk Sligo (26)

If you want to get up close to the iconic Benbulben, but don’t fancy having to climb, you can do the Benbulben Gortarowey walk, it is an easy looped walk, that runs around the base of Benbulben mountain in north County Sligo.

Benbulben Mountain Gortarowey Walk Sligo
Gortarowey Walk Sligo

 

Gortarowey is an all weather trail with a hard surfaced finish, so you can wear old runners or hiking boots,  and it’s suitable for all ages and abilities, you can even take a buggy and your dog on a leash.  The trail begins in a forest area before opening out to provide beautiful views of Benbulben mountain and you can also view Donegal bay, as you walk around the other side.  The walk is about 4 kilometres and takes about one and half hours.

Benbulben Mountain Gortarowey Walk Sligo (18)

If you are visiting Sligo for the day, you could also visit W. B. Yeats grave in nearby Drumcliffe Church and then do the Gortarowey walk with lunch afterwards in Henry’s restaurant on the N15 at Cashelgarron.  Other scenic locations close by worth visiting, include the Gleniff Horseshoe drive, Mullaghmore and Lissadell House.

Directions to Gortarowey Walk:

Take the N15 road north of Sligo for 8km.  Continue for 1.6 kilometres after Drumcliffe village.  Take the right-hand turn signposted Barnaribbon up by a thatched cottage.  Follow the road straight ahead, and keep left where the road veers right. This will bring you to a car park on your left under Benbulben.

 

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Sligo Town Walking Tour Video

A few months ago, we did a self guided Sligo town walking tour, it took us several hours as we stopped to take lots of photos and read the tour booklet I had, it was interesting to read about the buildings and places and get the background.

Then during the Fleadh Cheoil last week, we got a guided walking tour with the Sligo Tourist office.  It was engaging and informative and our guide John Ryan, was very knowledgeable and passionate. If you are a tourist, it’s a great way to get the lay of the land and a good summary of Sligo’s history and how other Irish and world events affected Sligo.  It’s a great way to find out about a place, even if you have lived there all your life, you will learn something new about the town.

 

 

Contact Sligo Tourism office for dates and times of tours.

 

Literary Trail – Sebastian Barry – 2nd Location

Literary Trail based on the novels – The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman.

Welcome back, the next point of interest on the Sebastian Barry Literary trail, is located only a short walk from the main street in Sligo Town.  (You can click here to view the 1st point on the Literary trail.)

2. The Lungey House

The second location is only a 2 minute walk from our first point of interest on John Street, it is a street with an usual name called The Lungy.  There was an old 17th century house on this street, on the site now occupied by a 3 storey apartment block called Cathedral View.  According to The Lungy House website and The Streets of Sligo book by Fiona Gallagher,  Lungy House did exist and lay in ruins for many years on The Lungy Street, which is at the top of Charles Street, the street next to where Sebastian Barry’s family had there first ancestral home.   The original Lungy House was demolished completely in the 1980’s, this is most likely the house that the McNulty family refer to, although in the books, it is spelt as the Lungey House.

Sligo Town 19th Century
The original Lungy House in the centre of this photo and Sligo Town, source National Library of Ireland

Tom McNulty senior, tells Eneas about how there are descended from a noble family, who once lived in The Lungey House and were butter exporters.  The Lungey House is described as been in ruins at end of the yard, as Tom talks to  a young five year old Eneas about it “an old jumble of walls and gaps, with brickwork about the empty windows..

The Lungey Street
The Lungy Street, entrance to the Peace Park in Sligo Town.

In the opening pages of the book, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty,  there  is a reference to the Lungey House which is now home to black rooks that inhabit the ruins and fly over the nearby Presbyterian graves.  The Sligo Presbyterian Church is located on the corner of Church Street, right on the intersection of Charles Street and The Lungy Street and St John’s Cathedral, graveyard is behind Charles Street.

Church Lane, Sligo town

The Lungy street, sligo

Later on in the book, The Secret Scripture, Roseanne recalls Tom Junior telling her, how his family were originally butter importers or exporters, she can’t quite recall.    Also, in The Temporary Gentleman, Jack McNulty recounts the same family history, his father told him, “…we had once been butter exporters in Sligo and had lived in a mansion called the Lungey House, just around the corner from our quarters on John Street. This old place was by then a charmless and festering ruin.”

19th century house Sligo
The Lungy Glebe House Sligo circa late 19th Century

There is another old large 19th century period house still standing on The Lungy Street, located on the corner of Church Lane and The Lungy, behind a large stone boundary wall, which dates back to 1840’s, it is a detached four-bay by two-bay, two-storey stone house, which was a former Glebe house for the clergy, this is not the original Lungey House, that is referred to in the book, but it is similar in stature, to the one, which Tom is referring to as he talks to young Eneas.

Glebe house, at The Lungy, 19th Century
Former Glebe House, today the home of the Sligo Social Services

This former Glebe house is now the home of the Sligo Social Services, it is a beautiful old  19th century building and if you have a interest in architectural heritage, it is worth viewing, you can walk through the stone wall archway on The Lungy Street and into the Peace Park, to view the building from the outside. The Peace park itself, may also have possibly inspired Sebastian Barry, as there is reference to a People’s park in the books, which was said to have been named after a priest called Father Moran.  The Peace park, was built in the last 40 years, after the land was donated to the Sligo people by the then Bishop of Elphin.

Literary Trail – Sebastian Barry – 1st Location



Literary Trail for Sebastian Barry’s trilogy – The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman

This first location in our Sebastian Barry Literary trail, is within a short walking distance of the main thoroughfare in Sligo town, called O’Connell Street.

1. John Street – The McNulty family home was set on John Street and the opening line of the book “The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty”, gives the location of the family home located on John Street, “In the middle of the lonesome town, at the back of John Street, in the third house from the end…” Later, Eneas describes his house “as thin and narrow on John Street.”  Although I would hazard a guess, that Sebastian Barry, could also have been describing the street adjacent to John Street, which would be Charles Street, although this street is not referenced in the book, it is beside the original Lungey House and St John’s graveyard would be located behind this street.

Charles street in Sligo town
Charles street looking up from the direction of John Street Sligo

John Street is located at the bottom of O’Connell Street, it is just 300 metres walk from the Tourist Office, which is located at the top of O’Connell Street, so walk to the opposite end of the street and take a right and you are on John Street. Charles Street is located off John Street, the first left as you come from the direction of O’Connell Street.  Charles Street is on a hill with rows of narrow houses on either side of the street.

John Street’s distinct red bricked window terraced houses.
John Street in Sligo town
John Street

Click here to view the next point of interest on the Sligo Secret Scripture trail.

In the footsteps of Eneas McNulty



Are you a fan of Sebastian Barry’s fictional trilogy about the McNulty family, Eneas, Roseanne, Jack and Mai ? Experience Sligo from the characters’ perspective.  Check out the melcoo literary trail to follow in the footsteps of your favourite characters.

Over the  next few weeks, we will be posting a walking tour series about the streets and buildings in Sligo that helped inspire the novels.  Sebastian Barry’s novels have become a huge success. The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, The Secret Scripture and The Temporary Gentleman have sold millions of copies worldwide and The Secret Scripture is currently been made into a feature film. Sebastian Barry’s play Our Lady of Sligo also referenced places in Sligo.

Sebastian Barry fans can make their way around Sligo to see the locations where the novels are set or book a guided tour with us.

All of the locations are within a short walking distance of the main thoroughfare in Sligo town, called O’Connell street.

Check out the first location on the Literary trail here

 

Featured Image source: National Library of Ireland