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Your Are Here - Home > Counties > Sligo County > Sligo Town
Sligo is a beautiful and colorful town located in the northwest of Ireland. The scenery in Sligo is beautiful with mountains, lakes, rivers and forests. As well as that the Alantic Ocean adds to the spectacular scenery of the area. Sligo has a rich history and has plenty of things to see and take in. Sligo is also home of William Butler Yeats, one of Irelands famous writers. Sligo is very attractive town and worth checking out.

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.

The significance of Sligo in the Early Neolithic period is demonstrated by the abundance of ancient sites close by, not least Carrowmore, on the Cuil Irra peninsula, 3k from the town. The NRA excavation for the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road in 2002 revealed an early Neolithic causewayed enclosure (c. 4000 B.C.) overlooking the site of Sligo town today. It would have been enclosed by a ditch and palisade, and was perhaps an area of commerce and ritual. According to Edward Danagher, who excavated there, 'Magheraboy demonstrates the early Neolithic settlement of this area of Sligo, while the longevity of the activity on the site indicates a stable and successful population during the final centuries of the fifth millennium and the first centuries of the fourth millennium BC'. Sligo town's first roundabout was constructed around a megalithic tomb (Abbeyquarter North, in Garavogue Villas).

Maurice Fitzgerald, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland is generally credited with the establishment of the medieval town of Sligo, building the Castle of Sligo in 1245. Sligo was burned with regularity throughout the medieval period. In 1257, Geoffry O'Donnell, chief of Tirconnell, marched on Sligo and burned the town. The annalists refer to this Sligo as a "sradbhaile"; meaning a village or town not defended by an enclosure or wall, and consisting of one street. By the mid 15th century the town and port had grown in importance. Amongst the earliest preserved specimens of written English in Connaught is a receipt for 20 marks, dated August 1430, paid by Saunder Lynche and Davy Botyller, to Henry Blake and Walter Blake, customers of “ye King and John Rede, controller of ye porte of Galvy and of Slego”. Over a century later an order is sent from the Elizabethan Government to Sir Nicholas Malby, Knight, willing him to establish ‘apt and safe’ places for the keeping of the Assizes & Sessions, with walls of lime & stone, in each county of Connaught, “judging that the aptest place be in Sligo, for the County of Sligo…” Sligo Abbey, the Dominican Friary, is the only medieval building left standing in the town. The abbey was founded by Fitzgerald in 1253 but was 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 altar 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."

Sligo town recently highlighted its connections with Goon Show star and writer Spike Milligan by unveiling a plaque at the former Milligan family home at Number 5 Holborn Street.

Sligo Town
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Sligo Town
In: Sligo
People: 17,892
Speak: English, Irish
Type: Hertiage City
GPS: -8.4833, 54.2667