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.