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Acting as the twenty-second largest county in Ireland with regard to size and the twenty-sixth in terms of population, County Sligo is home to approximately 65,000 residents as of the 2016 census. Sligo Town, the namesake of the county, is the largest urban area in the territory, housing nearly 61% of the county's overall population. Some of the region's features that have helped it to be more recognizable include the Benbulben Mountain—noted for its unusual shape—the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, and the poet W. B. Yeats. The cemetery, in particular, is evidence of the various ancient structures that dot the landscape of County Sligo. There are over 5,000 reported archeological sites, which in turn makes the territory "one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in Western Europe." Tourists to Sligo are encouraged to visit in July or August when temperatures are at their highest (with a typical range of 12 to 17 degrees Celsius). Precipitation occurs year-round, though November is reported to be the rainiest month, with an average of 104 mm of rainfall. Sligo Town is divided by the Garavogue River, which connects Lough Gill to the Atlantic Ocean. The city also combines many of the county's roads, such as the N4, N15, and N16.
County Sligo, situated in the northwestern region of the Republic of Ireland, is one of the twenty-six county divisions that constitute the nation. With a long history of traditional music, the territory has served as the home for various luminaries such as Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Fred Finn, Peter Horan, and Paddy Killoran. As a result of the county's musical history, many traditional music festivals are held each year. One such event that has gained noticeable traction in recent years is the Queen Maeve International Summer School, which lasts throughout the entire summer in the city of Sligo, for which the county is named. In addition to local theatres and other similar venues—such as Hawks Well Theatre—Sligo contains multiple indoor attractions. Parkes Castle, Bundoran Waterworld, Happy Days, and the Funny Bones House of Fun are all examples of relatively family-friendly activities that primarily take place indoors in the County Sligo region. That being said, people are also able to visit nature-based attractions such as the Island View Riding Stables, the Lough Allen Adventure Centre, and the Castle Adventure Open Farm.
The aforementioned namesake of the county, Sligo, acts as the county seat and is home to approximately 20,000 residents as of the 2016 census. Its size makes it the "largest urban centre in the county," seeing as how the greater Sligo Borough District is home to roughly 38,000 residents. County Sligo as a whole has a population of around 65,000 people, meaning that 61% of the county's occupants reside in Sligo Town. A number of tourists visit the destination annually as well, owing to its "surrounding coast and countryside, as well as its connections to the poet W. B. Yeats."
Situated on the Garavogue River, Sligo Town is thought to have contained some form of human settlement for thousands of years. Its name originates from the Gaelic word "Sligeach," meaning "Shelly River." This is presumed to be a reference to "the abundance of shellfish found in the waters surrounding the town." The formal city limits of Sligo can be traced back to 1245, when a castle was erected by Maurice FitzGerald near present-day Abbey Street, one of the town's defining features. Additionally, there are over 5,000 historical archeological sites in the region, which is a relatively high proportion when compared to other counties in Ireland.
Home to the Benbulben Mountain, County Sligo has a diverse range of habitats and geographic features, with Benbulben being one of the area's most recognizable features. More specifically, according to Sligo Town's website, the mountain is "known worldwide as the iconic symbol of Sligo." Benbulben was formed by glaciers during an ice age that took place approximately 3-4 thousand years ago and is described as having an "unforgettable shape." For those wishing to hike the mountain, it is strongly recommended to approach on the south side. This is because the north face of Benbulben "bears the brunt of the high winds and storms" that find their way into the area from the Atlantic Ocean.
Divided by the Garavogue River, the city of Sligo acts as a seaport and overall connection from the Lough Gill to the Atlantic Ocean. As the largest town in the county, Sligo connects many of the major roads in the region. Routes N59 and N17 merge with N4 before joining with Sligo's southern portion. This main road is then divided as it proceeds northbound out of Sligo Town, splitting into the N15 and N16. These thoroughfares branch out to the north and east, respectively.
Sligo Town's climate throughout the course of the year is reasonably consistent from season to season, though it still follows patterns of other areas in the Northern Hemisphere with colder winters and warmer summers. July and August are the region's hottest months, with temperatures that typically range from 12 degrees to 17 degrees Celsius. During the entirety of winter (ranging from December to February), temperatures generally remain between 3 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius. These more polarizing temperatures—in addition to the weather conditions that they bring—have caused multiple people to encourage visiting Sligo from July to August. An average of 70 mm of rainfall occurs per month during that time, which is notably less than November due to it being the rainiest month in the year for the region, with a 104 mm average.
Efforts are put into effect consistently to protect and preserve the habitats and other natural areas in and around County Sligo. Sligo's geographic diversity was once described in a few words by local poet W. B. Yeats when he said, "The waters and the wild." Specific biomes and habitats that comprise the Sligo area include heaths, cliffs, springs, and blanket bogs. The latter-most habitat is home to "important bird species such as wintering Greenland white-fronted geese." Peregrine falcons are also known to inhabit the area, typically nesting along cliff faces. Strawberry trees, ivy broomrapes, and purple hairstreak butterflies are all forms of flora and fauna that live in the nearby woodlands of County Sligo, along with dozens of other types of trees, insects, mammals, and birds.
As with many other counties in the Republic of Ireland, County Sligo is home to many prehistoric monuments that date back thousands of years. Sligo Town reports "over 5,000 recorded archeological sites" in the zone and notes that Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary is the largest. The proportion of megalithic cemeteries, ancient church structures, and monastic settlements that can be found throughout the county make Sligo "one of the richest archaeological sites in Europe."
The formal foundational years of the city of Sligo took place in the mid-13th century when Lord Justice Maurice Fitzgerald invaded the region and drove back Tirconnell chief O'Donnell. By 1245, he had constructed the Castle of Sligo, which in turn inspired the growth of a city around the structure. For centuries thereafter, numerous battles for land and power took place that left the ownership of the settlement in the hands of multiple leaders.
County Sligo was formed in 1585 by Sir Henry Sidney, who was Lord Deputy of Ireland at the time. However, the formalization of this act would not be recognized in full until the end of the Nine Years' War in 1603. In modern times, County Sligo is recognized for its abundance of traditional music and for being the setting for various texts in the Mythological Cycles. For example, the story of Diarmad and Grainne's final act takes place on a prominent local mountain, Benbulben.
In the 20th century, the Sligo region became somewhat more recognized due to the poet William Butler Yeats (W. B. Yeats), along with his painter brother Jack Butler Yeats. William wrote a few sets of lyrics that detailed sections of the county, in particular Lough Gill and the island of Innisfree. Jack, on the other hand, spent sizeable portions of his early life in Sligo.
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