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"Jail & Bail" raises over €4,000

It started at 11am on Saturday morning with the CEO of Sligo County Council Ciaran Hayes locked in a cell untangling a piece of old rope as his “hard labour”.

And it ended at 5.45pm with Tabby Callaghan singing Jail House Rock in the same cell.

The occasion was the Sligo Jail & Bail fundraiser for the Friends of Sligo Gaol group. The event saw “prisoners” being arrested and locked up in a cell in Johnston Court shopping centre until their bail money was paid.In many cases the money was collected in advance by friends or work colleagues of the prisoner coming together to post the bail. In total more than E4,000 was raised which far exceeded the expectations of the organisers.

Chairperson of the Friends of Sligo Gaol said: "We were overwhelmed by the goodwill there is in Sligo towards our aim of restoring Sligo Gaol, the response was phenomenal.

“The gaol is a building of huge significance on both a local and national level. We want to promote greater awareness of its history and heritage, and work towards the eventual opening of the jail to the public. The funds raised will help us achieve these aims".

Some prisoners were arrested at their work, where they had to don prison uniforms and were handcuffed and literally dragged down the street to their cell – much to the amusement of onlookers.

And to ensure that they would not escape the attention of afternoon shoppers, town crier Brian Devaney led the way, ringing his bell.

The judge at the ‘court’ in Johnston Court was well-known panto baddie with Coolera Dramatic Society.

Chief warder was Dan Scannell, retired Governor of Castlerea prison, who is a member of the Friends of Sligo Gaol.

Another Coolera Dramatic Society stalwart Stephen Devaney did an unusual double act on the day. Firstly he was a prisoner, having been nominated by his ESB work colleagues. And later this prisoner became a judge while Judge Jones took a break.

Funds raised will go towards the group’s wide schedule of planned activities including recording the hidden graffiti on the old cell walls, a 1916 seminar on March 5, producing a children’s graphic novel and a history book about Sligo Gaol.

The Friends of Sligo Gaol thank all the prisoners, nominators, those who posted bail, sponsors and all who helped in so many ways.

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