Sligo Gaol seminar remembers the women of 1916


THOSE attending the recent “Sligo Gaol and the Life of Sligo Women in 1916” were reminded of the women prisoners in a musically haunting way. During guided tours of Sligo Jail, Bua Women’s Choir gave visitors an unexpected surprise singing on the stairs of the jail to represent the female inmates of long ago.

The seminar received an international audience with viewers tuning in from four continents as people tuned in to watch the event via the group’s live web stream from Russia, Australia and the United States, as well as throughout Ireland.

Attendees of the event itself described it “a very special day” and “most interesting and informative”. A large crowd attended the seminar in the Riverside Hotel in Sligo and took part in the many guided tours of the jail.

There were a number of special attendees including Delia McDevitt, niece of the important 1916 figure Linda Kearns as well as 81 year old Alice Rouse, daughter of former Governor of Sligo Gaol, Theady McGowan. Both ladies gave very interesting accounts of their memories of their relatives and the roles they played. Many other attendees also told Friends of Sligo Gaol members of their experiences and memories of the jail, which Friends of Sligo Gaol now hope to add to their records.

Attendees watched a screening of Ealu, a documentary about Linda Kearns escape from Mountjoy Prison, which was produced by Paddy Hayes of Magamedia in Galway.

Chairperson of Friends of Sligo Tamlyn McHugh explained the relevance of the musical performance at the jail. “While Countess Markievicz was imprisoned in Cork City Gaol the women of Cumann na mBan would line up outside the gaol wall and sing to her in the evening. Inspired by this and in the hope of finding that lost female voice again at Sligo Gaol we had a special treat for all during your tour by Maggie Kilcoyne and BUA ladies choir,” said Tamlyn. .

The seminar also featured an art exhibition created by the students of Rathcormac NS Sligo, inspired by the 1916 Rising. “Thank you to the students and their headmaster Frank O’Sullivan for the wonderful artwork,” Tamlyn added.

She also paid tribute to all those involved, including speakers Gary Burke, Liz Gillis, Sligo Heritage Officer Siobhan Ryan and Historian Fiona Gallagher. She also thanked Joe Grogan and the staff of the Riverside Hotel, as well as Sligo County Council and Sligo’s 1916 Centenary Committee for kindly funding this event as well as the staff of Sligo County Library.

One of the highlights of the event was Liz Gillis’s talk “What Did The Women Do Anyway” looking at the role that women from all over the country played in the Irish Revolution.

Her encyclopaedic knowledge of the events of 1916 and of the role of women in particular had the crowd in a Gary Burke’s description of the life of women prisoners in Sligo Gaol in 1916 painted a very bleak picture and his talk “Indecent Behavior: Sligo Gaol and the Sligo Women of 1916” proved most informative.

Gary Burke’s description of the life of women prisoners in Sligo Gaol in 1916 painted a very bleak picture and his talk “Indecent Behavior: Sligo Gaol and the Sligo Women of 1916” proved most informative.

Friends of Sligo Gaol was delighted to welcome Sligo Heritage Officer Siobhan Ryan, who along with eminent historian Fiona Gallagher, Liz Gillis and Gary Burke formed a discussion panel once the speakers were finished, taking questions from the enthusiastic audience.

Here are some links to blogs featuring the seminar:

We were delighted to receive this letter from Edward Blake who attended our 1916 seminar and jail tour last weekend. We have had many lovely messages of support from the public. Thank you so much, it means the world to us to know there is such strong public support for our group and our aims.

Magnumlady: Sligo Gaol in 1916

Melcoo.com: A stay in the Cranmore Hotel

The Poor Student Traveller: Insight: Friends of Sligo Gaol

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