Collins gained ‘inner peace’ while in Sligo Gaol
A three week stay in Sligo Gaol gave Michael Collins “inner peace.”
That’s according to his grandniece Mary Claire O’Malley who unveiled a specially commissioned portrait of her famous granduncle at Sligo Gaol on Sunday.
The event was hosted by Friends of Sligo Gaol to commemorate 100 years since Michael Collins was incarcerated at the jail and 200 years since the jail opened its doors.
Unveiling the portrait, commissioned by Artist in Residence for Sligo Gaol Emma Stroude, Ms O’Malley said her granduncle hadn’t been very happy at the jail.
“I think it taught him a lot. They say he developed a lot in Sligo Gaol so it was a bit of a learning curve,” said Ms O’Malley.
The weekend kicked off with the launch of Friends of Sligo Gaol’s first children’s book ‘My Tale Untold’.
Launched by former Children’s Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch, the book, illustrated by Wayne O’Connor, is based on a young female inmate at Sligo Gaol.
“Although ‘My Tale Untold’ centres on one young girl’s experience, this book tells the story of thousands perhaps millions of the down-trodden who over centuries, have struggled against poverty, misrule and injustice and who have crossed oceans in search of a hopeful future,” said PJ Lynch.
Keynote speaker at the ‘Crime and Punishment in 19 th & 20 th Century Ireland, 200 years of Sligo Gaol 1818-2018’ conference was Dr Gillian O’Brien who spoke on ‘Dark Tourism’ said the opening of the jail would be an asset to the entire region.
“I think it’s excellent. It’s got a uniquely architectural feature; it’s very different to all the other jails that are currently open to the public.
“It’s got great stories to tell in terms of the famous prisoners but also some of the other stories, the stories that tell the social history of Sligo and of the North West and broader political stories associated with it. In terms of its authenticity it’s got huge amounts in terms of the fixtures and fittings as it has stood since 1818 onwards.
“It could open as a tourist amenity, it obviously needs investment and depending on how much you were to repair or extend it, there are a number of challenges associated with that but I think it would be an asset for Sligo and for the whole North West region as a tourist attraction,” said Dr O’Brien.
A variety of topics were covered including a History of crime in Ireland, Child prisoners in Sligo Gaol and The Spike Island Archaeological Project.
The aim of Friends of Sligo Gaol is to get the jail, which has been closed since 1956, reopened to the public as a tourist and cultural attraction, as well as ensuring its conservation and preservation.
“We were delighted with the success of the weekend,” said Chairperson Tamlyn McHugh.
“It goes to show once again the appetite that is there to see the jail opened as a tourist attraction. We are very grateful to everyone who made this weekend possible for us, especially the Heritage Council. It is very rewarding to see the support that is out there for us,” she said.
Friends of Sligo Gaol members with Mary Claire O’Malley and FOSG Artist in Residence Emma Stroude and the specially commissioned portrait of Michael Collins. L to R; Chantal Doyle, Grace Larkin, Cllr Marie Casserly, Emma Stroude, Mary Claire O’Malley, Ciaran Davis, Tamlyn McHugh, David McLoughlin and Ciaran McHugh. Pic:
Actors James Glynn and Craig de Faoite playing the arresting detective and Michael Collins as part of a special performance at Sligo Gaol on Sunday. Below: Conference delegates.
Mary Claire O’Malley admiring a portrait of her granduncle Michael Collins with Friends of Sligo Gaol’s David McLoughlin. Also present was Artist in Residence Emma Stroude, who painted the piece.
(L-R):‘My Tale Untold’ Illustrator Wayne O’Connor, Chairperson of Friends of Sligo Gaol Tamlyn McHugh, former Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch and St John’s N.S. pupil Jasmine Funston whose winning drawing featured on the ‘Crime and Punishment in 19th & 20th Century Ireland, 200 years of Sligo Gaol 1818-2018’, conference booklet.