Friend­sofSligoGaol­un­lock key­topast­forHer­itageWeek

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - By GRACE LARKIN

OVER 100 at­ten­dees came through the gates of Sligo Gaol as part of the “If Walls Could Talk” Her­itage Week event. Friends of Sligo Gaol put a spe­cial call out to those with a link to the historic build­ing to at­tend a tour of the prison.

Thanks to a grant un­der the Com­mu­nity and Vol­un­tary Sec­tor Gen­eral Grant Scheme, Friends of Sligo Gaol were able to of­fer tours and were de­lighted to have met many who had sto­ries to tell about the jail.

Vis­i­tors trav­elled from as far away as Tas­ma­nia, Eng­land and Scot­land to at­tend the event. Many of those present also had fond memories of hav­ing played in the jail as chil­dren.

Both John Fahy and his son An­drew played at the jail, although thirty years apart.

Una McAvera trav­elled all the way from Antrim to show FOSG a copy of a court hear­ing which saw her Great Gran­dun­cle im­pris­oned in the jail in 1890 when he was only 14 years old. She was ac­com­pa­nied by her Sligo cousin An­to­nia Fox.

An­other lady showed the group a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle from 1936 which told the tale of her grand­fa­ther who was im­pris­oned at the jail for three months for steal­ing pota­toes.

Gur­teen man Don­agh McDon­agh brought along a key to the jail which was pre­sented to his father, the Late former Sligo County Coun­cil­lor Michael McDon­agh, upon the jails clo­sure in 1956.

“It was a won­der­ful day and we were very grate­ful for all the in­for­ma­tion peo­ple were able to pro­vide us with,” said Friends of Sligo Gaol Chair­per­son Tam­lyn McHugh.

“This fur­ther en­hances our un­der­stand­ing of life at the jail and the ef­fect in­car­cer­a­tion had not only on the pris­on­ers, but also on their fam­i­lies.

“We en­joyed talking with peo­ple about their memories of the jail and in turn peo­ple were very in­ter­ested to see in­side the jail,” added Tam­lyn.

She said that events like this are the re­sult of many con­trib­u­tors.

“We are very grate­ful to Sligo County Coun­cil for giv­ing us ac­cess to the jail and pro­vid­ing us with a grant to host this.

“We would also like to thank Her­itage Of­fi­cer Siobhan Ryan for her con­tin­ued sup­port. Thanks also to Cre­ative Ire­land. Many thanks to Sligo Civil De­fence for al­low­ing us to use their build­ing as a venue for the event.

“Although we were so grate­ful to ev­ery­one who came and spoke with us about the jail on the day, we would par­tic­u­larly like to thank Kevin Mur­ray for pro­vid­ing us with in­cred­i­ble aerial photos of the jail which we dis­played on the day,” said Tam­lyn.

The group is now busily pre­par­ing for next year, which will mark the 200th an­niver­sary since the open­ing of the jail in 1818.

“We hope to mark the mile­stone in a spe­cial way and have our think­ing caps on,” Tam­lyn added.

The aim of Friends of Sligo Gaol is to pro­vide com­mu­nity sup­port for the con­ser­va­tion of Sligo Gaol and to pro­mote greater un­der­stand­ing and public aware­ness of its history and her­itage.

Its even­tual aim is to see the Gaol opened to the public as a tourist at­trac­tion. FOR more in­for­ma­tion on Friends of Sligo Gaol or to keep up to date with planned events you can check out their Face­book page or log on to www. sli­gogaol.

Deirdre MacCar­rick who vis­ited the jail from Tas­ma­nia with her nephew Donal Kelly and his wife Sinead.

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