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Sligo Champion article on Friends of Sligo Gaol

The Sligo Champion featured an article on Friends of Sligo Gaol and our facting finding mission to Cork -

The text of the interview is here -

Group aiming to get Sligo Gaol opened to the public after successful Cork trip

The recently formed Friends of Sligo Gaol group visited two heritage sites in Cork last weekend as part of a fact finding mission.

The group was set up to help build community awareness and support for the conservation of Sligo Gaol with the eventual aim of opening it to the public.

As a voluntary body they are committed to working in partnership with Sligo County Council and other stakeholders to achieve their aims while supporting the ongoing conservation work of the council.

Last weekend members of the group visited Camden Fort Meagher and Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre to get ideas for what can be achieved at Sligo Gaol.

Camden Fort Meagher served as a British military fort until 1938. In 1989 Cork County Council took over the site and in 2010 the Rescue Camden volunteers began their work restoring the fort.

Through their efforts the fort opened to the public in 2013.

Cork City Gaol dates to the same period opening in 1824 a year after Sligo Gaol.

Each of the Cork sites attract more than 35,000 visitors annually.

Secretary of the Friends of Sligo Gaol Tamlyn McHugh of Fadó Archaeology said they were encouraged by the visit to Cork:

"Having met with the two groups who run the Cork sites our vision of what can be achieved at Sligo Gaol is strengthened," she said.

Tamlyn said that the gaol has potential as a tourist attraction.

"Our first ambition is to build community support for the conservation of Sligo Gaol and to promote greater understanding and public awareness of its history and heritage.

"In the longer term, we envisage Sligo Gaol could be one of Sligo's biggest tourism attractions if all or even part of it can be opened to the public".

She said they already had a preliminary meeting with an official of Sligo County Council to explore means by which the group can support the local authority in their efforts to preserve the building.

Sligo jail closed in 1956 after numbers had dropped to around fifteen. It was designed to hold some 200 prisoners.

It was built at a cost of £30,000 and had its own hospital wing, surgery, dispensary, cookhouse, furnace, clothing store and school.

The jail was handed over to the county council in 1957.

A Governor's House stands adjacent to the former jail and is used by the county council as are other parts of the prison which were developed into offices.

Amongst the many notable prisoners held at Sligo jail were Michael Collins and Michael Davitt. The first public hanging at the jail was in 1861 while the last was in 1903.

The Friends of Sligo Gaol have set up a Facebook page and interest in their plans are gaining widespread support.

For more information contact Secretary Tamlyn McHugh at 086-8706529.

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