1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sligo (town)

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SLIGO, a municipal borough, seaport and market town, and the county town of county Sligo, Ireland. Pop. (1901) 10,870. It lies at the head of an arm of Sligo Bay on the north-west coast, on the river Garvogue, 134¼ m. N.W. from Dublin by the Midland Great Western railway. This company shares with the Great Southern and Western and the Sligo, Leitrim, and Northern Counties railways the line to Collooney Junction, 65 m. S., from which the former runs S. to Limerick and the latter E. to Enniskillen. The situation of Sligo is beautiful; the bay is separated from the fine Lough Gill by less than 4 m. of a richly wooded valley, with flanking hills exceeding 1000 ft. in elevation. Sligo takes rank with Galway and Limerick as one of the three principal ports of the west coast of Ireland. Regular communication by steamer is maintained with Liverpool and Glasgow, and a considerable export trade is carried on in grain, flour, pork and cattle; while coals, iron, timber and provisions are imported. There is a depth on the harbour bar of 16 ft. at low water, and there are commodious quays and basins. Harbour commissioners control the port. Brewing, flour-milling and saw-milling are the chief industries, and there is an important butter-market. Monthly fairs are held. Sligo is a centre of salmon and sea-fishing industries.

The Dominican Abbey, founded in 1252 by Maurice Fitzgerald, Lord-Justice, is one of the finest monastic ruins in Ireland. It was partly destroyed by fire in 1414 and again in 1642. Three sides of the cloisters remain, and the lofty quadrangular tower at the junction of the nave and chancel is entire. The east window is of the date of the original structure. The principal modern church is the Roman Catholic cathedral (1869) for the diocese of Elphin in the Norman style with a finely sculptured doorway. There is also a Roman Catholic college.

A castle was built at Sligo by Maurice Fitzgerald in 1242, which in 1270 was taken and destroyed by O'Donnel; in 1310 it was rebuilt by Richard, earl of Ulster, and was again partly destroyed in 1369 and 1394. Of this and the walls with which the town was fortified there are no remains. Early in the reign of James I. the town received a market and two annual fairs; in 1613 it was incorporated and received the privileges of a borough; and in 1621 it received a charter of the staple. In 1641 it was besieged by the Parliamentary forces under Sir Charles Coote, but was afterwards evacuated, and occupied by the Royalists till the termination of the war. In 1688 it declared in favour of James II., and, after being captured by the Enniskilleners, was retaken by General Sarsfield, but ultimately surrendered to the earl of Granard. The borough was disfranchised in 1870. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898 it retains its mayor and corporation, but the latter has practically the status of an urban district council.

The country neighbouring to Sligo presents fine coast scenery, west coast of Ireland, while inland it is wild and mountainous. Three m. S.W. of the town, on Carrowmore, is a remarkable collection of megalithic remains, including cromlechs, stone circles, and burial cairns, which has been taken to mark the site of the traditional battle of North Moytura. On Knocknarea (1078 ft.), south of Sligo, is a huge cairn, which tradition sets down as the burial-place of Queen Mab (Meave of Connaught). Five m. N. of Sligo is Drumcliffe, with its round tower and Celtic cross. Rosses, on Sligo Bay, is a favourite resort. Sligo is a centre for salmon and trout fishing.