Sligo's Irish name Sligeach - meaning shelly place - originates in the abundance of shellfish found in the river and its estuary, and from the extensive 'shell middens' or Stone Age food preparation areas in the vicinity.The river (now known as the Garavogue) was originally also called the Sligeach. The Ordnance Survey letters of 1836 state that 'cart loads of shells were found underground in many places within the town where houses now stand'. At that time shells were constantly being dug up during the construction of foundations for buildings.
Town: Sligo Town
Date: 1910 (estimate)
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Sligo (Irish: Sligeach) (pronounced 'sly-go' [sla?'go?]), is the county town of County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland. The town is a borough and has a charter and a town mayor. It is the second biggest urban area in Connacht (after Galway)
Sligo's Irish name Sligeach - meaning shelly place - originates in the abundance of shellfish found in the river and its estuary, and from the extensive 'shell middens' or Stone Age food preparation areas in the vicinity.The river (now known as the Garavogue) was originally also called the Sligeach. The Ordnance Survey letters of 1836 state that 'cart loads of shells were found underground in many places within the town where houses now stand'. At that time shells were constantly being dug up during the construction of foundations for buildings. This whole area, from the river estuary at Sligo, around the coast to the river at Ballysadare Bay, was rich in marine resources which were utilised as far back as the Mesolithic period.
Sligo town's first roundabout was constructed around a megalithic tomb (Abbeyquarter North, in Garavogue Villas). In the 1950's a crucifix and Virgin Mary statue were added, a new phase of veneration at this ancient place.
In the medieval period Sligo was an important crossroads strategically and commercially. Sligo Abbey, the Dominican Friary, is the only medieval building left standing in the town. It was founded by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Maurice Fitzgerald in 1253 but accidentally destroyed by fire in 1414, and was rebuilt in its present form. When Frederick Hamilton’s soldiers sacked Sligo Town in 1642, the Abbey was burned and everything valuable in it was destroyed. Much of the structure, including the choir, carved alter and cloisters remain.
Between 1847 and 1851 over 30,000 people emigrated through the port of Sligo. On the Quays, overlooking the Garavogue River, is a memorial sculpture to those people. This is one of a suite of three sculptures commissioned by the Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee to honour the victims of the Great Famine. A plaque in the background, headed 'Letter to America, January 2, 1850' tells one family's sad story: 'I am now, I may say, alone in the world. All my brothers and sisters are dead and children but yourself... We are all ejected out of Mr. Enright's ground... The times was so bad and all Ireland in such a state of poverty that no person could pay rent. My only hope now rests with you, as I am without one shilling and as I said before I must either beg or go to the poorhouse... I remain your affectionate father, Owen Larkin. Be sure answer this by return of post.'
It is said that the picturesque Coney Island in Sligo bay gives its name to Coney Island in New York City. The Dutch expression Konijn Eiland, often cited as the source of the name for Coney Island NY, has the same Latin origin as the Irish placename Oilean na gCoiníní. (Coinín means rabbit in Irish. There are at least two Coney Islands in Ireland). The Latin word cuniculus means rabbit or underground passage. Quite a plethora of theories for the origin of the American Coney Island exist, but clearly the Sligo one comes from ‘the island of the rabbits’. John McTernan, the Sligo historian, relates that a Sligoman, Captain Peter O'Connor, named New York's Coney Island after the island that lay one mile from his Sligo home. Captain O'Connor was master of the schooner Arethusa, which plied between Sligo and New York 200 years ago.
The poet W. B. Yeats is associated with Sligo. Much of his writing is descriptive of the area around Sligo town. In particular 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' is a reference to a small, uninhabited island on Lough Gill, which is a lake adjacent to the town. (The poet was likely thinking of Beezies Island, a bigger island in the lake close to the mouth of the Garavogue and a popular place to row to in the nineteen hundreds.) Yeats, who spent much of his youth in Sligo and its environs, died in 1939 and is buried in the graveyard in Drumcliffe, County Sligo.
Sligo town is encircled by two mountain ranges, namely Dartry Mountains to the north and the Ox Mountains to the south. The Dartry range includes the famous Ben Bulben which W. B. Yeats often wrote about and is said to be the resting place of Diarmuid and Grainne. Knocknarea Mountain, located 3 miles west of the town, on the Cuil Irra Peninsula, is famous for the (Neolithic) stone cairn at its summit. According to folklore the cairn is said to be the resting place of Queen Maeve (or Medb in Irish), who ruled Connacht.
Sligo town recently highlighted its connections with famous Goon Show star and writer Spike Milligan by unveiling a plaque at the former Milligan family home at Number 5 Holborn Street.
Sligo has a modern road network, being served by a dual-carriageway 'Inner-Relief Road' and connected to Dublin through the N4 road, which is of dual-carriageway standard in Sligo (and outside Sligo) and motorway standard in some areas.
The general public perception of the pedestrianisation of O'Connell Street is that it has not helped the town's traffic system. The Sligo County Council ‘Traffic & Transportation Plan’ identified the pedestrianisation of Sligo’s core streets as a priority following the opening of the Sligo Inner Relief Road.
Sligo acquired rail links to Dublin in 1862, Enniskillen and the north in 1881 and Limerick and the south in 1895. The line to Enniskillen closed in 1957 and passenger services to Limerick in 1963. For many years CIE kept the latter line open for freight traffic, and although it is now disused, it forms part of the Western Rail Corridor redevelopment project. In 1966 Sligo railway station was renamed Mac Diarmada Station after Irish rebel Sean MacDermott Iarnród Éireann, Ireland's national railway operator, runs inter-city rail services between Sligo and Dublin.
Like many towns in rural areas of Ireland, Sligo suffered for many years from the lack of development in the town. However this has improved in some sectors in the past decade. A lot of new development has been situated along the small river, the Garavogue, most notably the regeneration of J.F.K. and Rockwood Parades, consisting of houses, bars and a number of apartments as well as a new footbridge over the river itself. The most recent addition to the riverside is the new Glasshouse Hotel, a seven storey four star hotel. A large apartment development is underway further along the river.
O’Connell Street, the city's main shopping street has been pedestrianised since augst 2006. The new johnsons court mall on O'Connell street is nearing completion.
Crozon, Brittany, France · Kempten im Allgäu, Bavaria, Germany · Tallahassee, Florida, United States
Other items of interest
There are two local newspapers in Sligo. The Sligo Weekender is published on a Tuesday while The Sligo Champion is published on a Wednesday.
Sligo is the home of three members of world famous boy-band Westlife, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Mark Feehily.