Carrick-on-Shannon – Sligo – Longford – Athlone – Kildare – Waterford

Having spent longer in Derry than I’d expected, I had ended up in a different place to where I had intended to be last night. The original idea had been to go from Dublin to Westport, spend the night there, jump on a bus to Sligo in the morning, so returning on different line. However, by the time I reached Dublin the last Westport train had already left, but there was still one Sligo train, so reversing this loop felt had felt like the best solution.

I had spent some time trying to find a way from Sligo to Westport and from there to Waterford, but all options involved at least one bus/train connection that was less than five minutes. In the end I compromised, and decided I would partially retrace my steps after taking a look around Sligo.

As I walked to the station, I was amused to see in the daylight that the boats on the pontoons in Carrick-on-Shannon appear to be sorted by colour – not of the boat but of the fenders. All the blue-fendered boats were on one pontoon and all the green ones on the next. I wonder what that is about.

Sligo is, to me, a somewhat underwhelming place. I’ve been here before and thought I must have missed the point of it. Strange really as the the hotels here are horribly expensive. By stopping off at Carrick-on-Shannon, less than an hour away, I’d found a much better option at half the price.

I had about an hour between arriving and leaving (on the same train.) As the photos show, there is culture and history, but for some reason it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Maybe it has some hidden depth that I’ve missed on two trips now, but even the stations suggested that Carrick is more loved.

Longford was the first place that I could hop over to the Westport line. This gave me a route to Waterford without going through Dublin again. The bus stop is right outside the station, which was helpful as it tipped down with rain whilst I was waiting. Oddly, two buses turned up together for Athlone, because the service was so busy that they’d put an extra on one, and they travelled in convoy.

I had some time in Athlone, so walked down to the river. A boat was being penned (locked) through as I arrived. There was lots of work going on in this town, to roads and footpaths, and one of the river bridges. I guess that they are busy here in summer. It’s a pleasant place, and the castle is small but attractive.

I passed what is apparently the oldest bar in Ireland, though you wouldn’t know it to look at it. Perhaps more accurate to say it is the site of the oldest bar as I’m not sure how much of the original is left.

I returned to Athlone in good time for my train. This is a completely new station but they have spent a lot of time putting up information and photos about the old one, and of the railway as it used to be in this part of Ireland.

From here I jumped onto a train to Kildare, and then onward to Waterford.

I last visited Waterford a few years ago when there was a festival of street art going on. Since then they have really run with the idea. There is new work being added all the time, and around twice as many works as when I was here previously. I chatted with a few locals who were saying that they loved it, and never knew were something would pop up next.

I’ve added quite a few photos to this gallery, but they are still only a fraction of what there is to see.

I was guided around the town by a phone app, which was invaluable in locating some of the more hidden works. I spent the whole evening looking around, and by the time I was done had to settle for a takeaway as all the restaurants had closed for the evening.

Lovely place, Waterford is one of my favourite places in Ireland, as it shows what a creative mindset can do to change the way an ageing city thinks about itself. The positive feel that has come from the street art now shows itself in creative treatment of urban spaces and a truly remarkable museum building, tucked between historic buildings this ultra modern design sits perfectly. Great stuff.