Rosses Point, a seaside resort town, is widely known for its long sandy beaches, perfect for leisurely strolls at twilight. Because it marks the entrance to Sligo Quay, the town has many relics of Sligo's maritime history, among the most notable, an old ship beached on its side. Though the ship has little to do with Sligo, locals spin tale and tale about it.
The ship sank in Donegal, though no one is sure how or why, and details are sketchy at best. She was then salvaged and was being towed to Killala Bay in Mayo to be used in the making of a movie called "Year of the French." Along the way, the tow rope broke, the ship ran aground, and remains to this day beached at Rosses Point. "Year of the French," released in 1982 by Director Michael Garvey, recounts the story of the failed French landing at Killala Bay when a small force of French troops sailed to Ireland to support Irish rebels against British troops. It is said that a new ship was built as a replacement for use in the movie.
Rosses Point is a stunning town, bustling with a vibrant energy, encased by majestic mountain ranges, including Knocknarea, Benbulben, Benwiskin, and situated sedately along both the Atlantic and Sligo Bay. In the village is a Lifeboat Shop with a history that belongs strictly to Rosses Point and nearby are the ruins of an old Pilot House on the path to Deadman's Point. The Lifeboat Shop, open on Saturdays from 11:00-3:00, sells nautical souvenirs and is raising money for a good cause: saving the lives of any in need of sea rescue. Nearby stands the statue of a woman holding her arms out to sea. Called Waiting on Shore, the statue pays homage to those who watched and waited for the return of loved ones.
The remains of the Pilot House mark the place where the long-ago estuary pilots lived and guided ships into Sligo Harbour. Deadmans' Point, however, is said to mark the burial site of a foreign (probably French) seaman who died from an infectious disease on board ship. The crew, fearing the disease, buried him rather hastily. According to local lore, the crew, unsure of whether the seaman was dead or not, buried him with a loaf of bread. A painting by Jack Yeats (brother of W.B) called Memory Harbour is based on this story. Other stories connected with the Yeats brothers include those of Elsinore Lodge, a place where the boys spent much time during their childhood. It was owned by their grandparents, the Middletons, but is said to have been built originally by the infamous pirate, Black Jack, whose ghost still haunts the place with a characteristic rap (knocking 3 times on a windowpane).
With its population at a little over 750, Rosses Point is quaint, friendly, and beautiful. Because it was always the stop for the crew to regroup its strength for the long journey to Sligo Harbour, Rosses Point has a long tradition of hospitality which continues today. This beautiful, pristine seaside village offers anything a traveller could want: accommodation, hospitality, good food, leisure activities...and a few ghostly legends, as well.
How to get there:
From Dublin: N4 to Sligo Town (214 km). Follow signposts to R291 to Rosses Point.
From Belfast: A6 to Derry, then A5 to Lifford, N15 to Sligo Town. Then follow signs to Rosses Point. Well signposted.
Written by Joy Davis - Summer of Travel 2007