Mullaghmore, County Sligo

Coordinates: 54°27′59″N 8°26′55″W / 54.4664°N 8.4486°W / 54.4664; -8.4486
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An Mullach Mór
Mullaghmore Harbour
Mullaghmore Harbour
Mullaghmore is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°27′59″N 8°26′55″W / 54.4664°N 8.4486°W / 54.4664; -8.4486
CountyCounty Sligo
 • Total136
Irish Grid ReferenceG709577

Mullaghmore (Irish: An Mullach Mór, meaning "the great summit")[2] is a village on the Mullaghmore Peninsula in County Sligo, Ireland. It is a holiday destination with a skyline dominated by Benbulben mountain. It is in the barony of Carbury and parish of Ahamlish.


From the 17th to the 19th centuries it was part of the large estate belonging to the Temple family in north Sligo. The land, some 12,000 acres (4,900 ha), was granted to Sir John Temple (1600-1677), Master of the Rolls in Dublin. Sir John's direct descendant, The 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), began the building of Classiebawn Castle on the peninsula, a baronial-style house designed by James Rawson Carroll. Lord Palmerston also built the stone-walled harbour in the village, which was designed by the marine engineer Alexander Nimmo. It was built between 1822 and 1841.

The Temples were mostly absentee landlords, with the estate being run initially by middlemen, and later by land agents, such as Stewart and Kincaid,[3] a Dublin firm with offices in Sligo.[4] These agents, in their attempts to make the estates profitable, oversaw the "assisted emigration" that took place on the Palmerston and adjacent Gore-Booth (Lissadell) estate that began before the Great Famine and continued until at least the 1860s.

Thus, in May 1862, a Sligo newspaper reported: "In accordance with a custom of some years' standing, about sixty persons have been selected for emigration from the Parish of Ahamlish ... whose passages and outfit has been provided by his Lordship. They consist of twenty-four young girls, and twenty young men ... [and] families who were wholly unable to support themselves ... who had asked the favour of being sent out ... The emigrants took their passages ... this day, for Liverpool, en route for America."[5]

Classiebawn Castle

Lord Palmerston presided over Mullaghmore and North Sligo during the worst years of the Great Famine of the mid-19th century. During the summer and autumn of 1847, nine vessels, carrying over 2,000 persons left Sligo port with tenants evicted and "shovelled out" from his Sligo estates. They arrived in Canada destitute and half-naked. The city of Saint John in the colony of New Brunswick had to take many of Palmerston's evicted tenants into care and, outraged, sent a scathing letter to Palmerston expressing regret and fury that he or his agents, "should have exposed such a numerous and distressed portion of his tenantry to the severity and privation of a New Brunswick winter ... unprovided with the common means of support, with broken-down constitutions and almost in a state of nudity ... without regard to humanity or even common decency." The graves of many of these unfortunate victims can be seen today on the old quarantine station, now a museum, at Grosse Isle, in the St. Lawrence River opposite Quebec City.[citation needed]

Classiebawn was a favoured holiday retreat of Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten. It was off the Mullaghmore coast in August 1979 that Mountbatten, along with his fourteen-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, Doreen Knatchbull and County Fermanagh teenager Paul Maxwell, were killed by a bomb planted by the Provisional IRA.

In 2007 it hosted the final stage of Rally Ireland. Sebastian Loeb wins the Rally of Ireland and went on to win his 4th World Championship title.[citation needed]


Mullaghmore Beach (Bunduff Strand)

Mullaghmore is a big wave surfing destination.[6] On 8 March 2012, surfers and windsurfers from all over the world rode waves up to 15 metres (49 ft) high off Mullaghmore Head. These waves were about five metres (16 ft) less than the tallest wave ever recorded in Ireland in County Donegal on 13 December 2011, which was 20.4 metres (67 ft) high.[7][8]

The waves in Mullaghmore were generated by a complex weather system nicknamed the "Viking storm" leading to big wave conditions in the area for the month of March for 15 years. Some riders suffered bruising as well as broken bones and surfboards.[9][10]

A North American low-pressure system moved east and combined with another cyclone in the Western Atlantic. This system moved into an area off the coast of Ireland that already had high waves owing to a series of strong systems the previous week. In addition, a strong anticyclone over the Azores created a large pressure gradient in the North Atlantic that directed a strong fetch towards Ireland. There was also an extended fetch length in the North Atlantic in the direction of Europe while the swell was created. These combined conditions produced waves that were confirmed by satellite data on 7 March 2012 to have exceeded 15 metres (49 ft) in height.[11]


Mullaghmore is served by two hotels, a seafood restaurant, a grocery shop, a spiritual retreat centre and a fish farm. There is also a variety of B&Bs in Mullaghmore. Mullaghmore's busiest times for trade and tourism are during the summer months of May, June, July and August, with the busiest being the weekend of the 12th of July, and the August Bank Holiday weekend. Most of these businesses close for the winter months, except the fish farm.

Mullaghmore also has a sandy beach nearly 2 km (1.2 mi) in length. There is no lifeguard on duty.[12]

The Pier Head Hotel, Spa and Leisure Centre[edit]

The Pier Head Hotel is situated in Mullaghmore village by the Pier wall. It opened as McHugh's Hotel & Tearooms in the early twentieth century, while also housing a schoolhouse. It is still owned by the McHugh family. In 2005, the hotel oversaw major renovations, including the addition of more rooms, a heated pool, a spa, and a new restaurant. In 2007, it was rally HQ when the final stage in the Rally Ireland stages got underway.[13] In 2010, Leonard Cohen stayed at the Pier Head Hotel, after a request by the Hotel staff. Cohen wanted to stay outside Sligo town and opted for Mullaghmore. He also liked to walk the Beach and meander around the village.[14] He stayed at the Pier Head while he performed two gigs in Sligo in front of 20,000 people at Lissadell House in his 2010 tour which he said was one of his two favourite venues he has ever played at.[15] In 2015, The Pier Head hosted Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on their official visit to Mullaghmore where his uncle was killed. The Pier Head Hotel held a brief history exhibition on the area's history for Prince Charles and his wife.[16][17] The Hotel now has over 40 rooms, Nimmo's residents bar, named after the designer of the Harbour, and a restaurant named The Clashybann Restaurant overlooking Donegal Bay. As of July 2022, The restaurant is open to the public.[18][19] The leisure centre is open to the public,[20] as is the Quay Bar.[21]

The Beach Hotel[edit]

The Beach Hotel is situated across the road from the Pier Head, overlooking the harbour. It was first opened in the 1950s and has enjoyed prolonged business in Mullaghmore. It was once popular with showbands.[22] In the late 1990s, the Hotel added Corki's Niteclub and a leisure centre, which included a 15-metre pool, gym and a Jacuzzi. In 2015, the hotel was featured in Episode 6 of Series 7 of RTÉ's At Your Service, where hoteliers Francis Brennan and his brother John set out to help lift the hotel and give it more business. The plan drawn up by the hoteliers included renovation of the rooms, a renovation to the function room, and a rebranding of the hotel. The Leisure remained was decommissioned entirely, due to the small budget of the owners. The results turned around the fortunes of the hotel and the hotel is thriving to this day. The hotel now has 28 rooms, a resident's restaurant, and the Boatmans Bistro Bar, which is open to the public.[23]

Eithna's By the Sea Seafood Restaurant[edit]

Eithna's By The Sea is a seafood restaurant in Mullaghmore situated beside the beach Hotel and across from the Pier Head Hotel.[24] It was first opened in 1990. Chef Neven Maguire once visited Eithna's Restaurant on the Sligo leg of his Irish Seafood Trails programme which was broadcast on RTÉ in 2019 [25] The restaurant is also notable for its striking mural depicting "By The Sea in Mullaghmore" [26]

Paddy's Place[edit]

Paddy's Place is the only shop for 5 km, the next nearest shop being in Cliffoney. It is open from March through to October and closes at 6 pm each day. It sells groceries, ice creams, and beach toys and equipment.[27]

Star Of The Sea Retreat and Conference Centre[edit]

The Star Of the Sea Building originally housed the coast guard in the nineteenth century, and the Sligo Sisters Of Mercy made it their home in August 1929. In the 1970s, the Convent began to welcome retreats. The entire building was overhauled and renovated in the 1990s. In 2010, The Mullaghmore Peace Garden was the latest addition to the facility. In 2015, the garden was visited by Prince Charles. In 2013, the Convent was handed over by the Sisters of the Western Province to the Bishop of Elphin and was run by God. Sr. Kathleen Rooney, R.S.M.. She ran the retreat until August 2020 when she was replaced by Louise and Frank McGuinness, who are the current management team at the centre.[28]


The village is served by TFI Local Link Route 982, which runs from Ballyshannon to Sligo. The bus arrives at Mullaghmore five times per day Monday to Saturday, and three times per day on Sunday.[29] For long-distance routes, the nearest Bus Éireann stop is at Cliffoney, around 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) distant, and is served several times per day.[30]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Population and Actual and Percentage Change 2011 to 2016". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  2. ^ Mullaghmore Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2012-03-21.
  3. ^ Norton, Desmond (21 April 2019). Landlords, tenants, famine: the business of an Irish land agency in the 1840s. University College Dublin Press. ISBN 9781904558569. Retrieved 21 April 2019 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Desmond Norton. "On landlord-assisted emigration from some Irish estates in the 1840s" (PDF). Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "The best big wave surf spots in the world". Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  7. ^ Giant 20-metre-high wave off Donegal Irish Times, 2011-12-13.
  8. ^ Donegal wave is a new high water mark Irish Times, 2011-12-14.
  9. ^ Surfers' paradise: Best March conditions in 15 years Irish Times, 2012-03-12.
  10. ^ Last Minute XXL Entry From Ireland TransWorld Surf magazine, 2012-03-12.
  11. ^ Ireland gets XXL surf Surfline, 2012-03-12.
  12. ^ "Mullachmore strand".
  13. ^ "Rally salute from Mullaghmore".
  14. ^ "When Leonard Cohen stayed in Mullaghmore". 14 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Leonard Cohen's favourite venues: 'The Kremlin and Lissadell'". The Irish Times.
  16. ^ Royal Visit to Mullaghmore.
  17. ^ "Our History - Pier Head Hotel".
  18. ^ "Clashybann Restaurant - The Pier Head Hotel".
  19. ^ "Clashybann Restaurant". Facebook.
  20. ^ "Leisure Centre - The Pier Head Hotel".
  21. ^ "The Quay Bar - The Pier Head Hotel".
  22. ^ "".
  23. ^ "The Beach Hotel Bar".
  24. ^ "Our Story - Eithna's By The Sea". 15 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Nevens Irish Seafood Trails Sligo - Bord Bia Quality Kitchen". YouTube.
  26. ^ "Eithna's past and present - Eithna's Restaurant". 2 June 2015.
  27. ^ "Facebook - Paddy's Place". Facebook.
  28. ^ "Star of the Sea".
  29. ^ "Route 982 Timetable" (PDF).
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]