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Lewis Topographical Directory of County Sligo.
| Early People & History | Geology
| Farming | 1641 Rebellion |
Administration | Geography
| Industry | Springs
SLIGO (County of), a maritime county of the province of Connaught, bounded on the east by Leitrim, on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west and south by Mayo, and on the south-east by Roscommon, It extends from 53º 53’ to 54º 26’ (N. Lat.), and from 8º 3’ to 9º 1’ (W. Lon.) ; and comprises an area, according to the Ordnance survey, of 434,188 statute acres, of which 257,217 are cultivated land, 168,711 are unimproved mountain and bog, and 8260 are under water. The population, in 1821, amounted to 146,229 ; and in 1831, to 171,508.
Early People & History.
This county was included in the territory of the Nagnatae in the time of Ptolemy, the chief city of which tribe, Nagnata, is supposed by some to have been somewhere near the site of the town of Sligo . It was afterwards possessed by a branch of the O’Conors, called for the sake of distinction O’Conor Sligo, The families of O’Hara, O’Dowd, Mac Donagh, and Mac Ferbis, were also heads of septs in different districts.
After the landing of the English under Hen. II., it gradually fell, together with the rest of Connaught, into the hands of the great English leaders, of whom the Burghs or De Burgos were the most powerful in these parts. Yet this revolution was not effected without a protracted struggle, in the course of which a great battle was fought at Assadar, now Ballysadere, where O’Nial, dynast of Tyrone, was defeated with great slaughter in an attempt to restore Cathal Croobhderg to the throne of Connaught, from which he had been driven by Charles Carragh, aided by William De Burgo.
Not many years after, the site of the present town of Sligo being deemed a suitable position for defence, a castle was erected there in 1245, by Maurice Fitz-Gerald, then lord-deputy, which was destroyed in 1271, by O’Donel, but rebuilt in the beginning of the ensuing century by Richard, Earl of Ulster.
The county was regarded as part of Connaught, which, with the exception of Roscommon, was then also considered by the English as a single county, until the 11th of Elizabeth , when the province was divided into seven counties, of which Sligo made one. About the same time O’Conor Sligo had tendered his submission to Sir Henry Sidney, lord-deputy, and had obtained a grant of his lands under the crown of England at a rent of £100 per annum, with a covenant to pay five horses and 130 beeves every Michaelmas, in lieu of cess, and to bring twenty horsemen and forty foot-soldiers into the field whenever summoned to attend a general hosting.
During the disturbances by which the north and west of Ireland were distracted at the close of Elizabeth’s reign, several actions took place in the county, in one of which the monastery of Ballymote was burned by the Irish, But the most remarkable incident connected with the county at that period was the defeat and death of Sir Conyers Clifford, who had succeeded Sir Rich. Bingham in the presidency of Connaught ; he had been sent by the Earl of Essex to Belleek, at the head of 1400 foot, and a body of horse, consisting of 100 English and a number of Irish auxiliaries : in proceeding through the Curlew mountains, he pushed forward with his infantry through a defile, where he was suddenly attacked by O’Rourk, chieftain of Breffny, at the head of about 200 men, with such impetuosity that he was killed on the spot, together with several of his officers and 120 men, and the rest were driven back upon the cavalry, whose appearance checked the pursuit, and gave the fugitives an opportunity of escaping without further loss.
On the breaking out of the war of 1641, the county was overrun by the De Burgos ; and though Sligo was taken from them the year after, by Sir Frederic Hamilton, it fell into their hands again, and remained in their possession until finally subdued by Ireton and Sir Charles Coote. In the war of 1688, Sligo was in the possession of the troops of Jas. II., but they vacated it after raising the siege of Derry , through a stratagem contrived by Lieut.-Col. Gore : the forces of Wm. III. were, however, too much exhausted to follow up their advantage, so that the country fell again into the possession of the Irish, and the town surrendered the following year to Lord Granard.
During the French invasion, in 1798, General Humbert, after the battle of Castlebar, instead of proceeding towards Dublin, turned northwards through this county in the hope of being able to co-operate with a larger force destined to act upon the north of Ireland : he was stopped at Collooney by the city of Limerick militia, commanded by Col. Vereker, afterwards Lord Gort, who, though much inferior in numbers, gave him such a check as induced him to turn towards Longford, where he was surrounded by the whole of the army under the Marquess Cornwallis, and forced to surrender at discretion.
This county is partly in the diocese of Elphin, partly in that of Killala, but chiefly in that of Achonry. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the baronies of Carbery, Coolavin, Corran, Leney, Tiraghrill, and Tyreragh. It contains the borough, sea-port, market, and assize town of Sligo ; the market and post-towns of Ballymote and Collooney; the market town of Coolaney; and the post-town of Dromore West : the principal villages are Ballysadere (which has a penny post), Tubbercorry, Ardnaree, Easkey, Grange, and Riverstown.
It sent four members to the Irish parliament, two for the county, and two for the borough of Sligo ; since the Union its representatives in the Imperial parliament have been the two members for the county at large, and one for the borough. The election takes place in the town of Sligo . The constituency, as registered to the beginning of 1837, consisted of 268 freeholders of £50, 195 of £20, and 542 of £10 ; 1 leaseholder of £50, 5 of £20, and 4 of £10 ; 4 rent-chargers of £50 and 20 of £20 ; making a total of 1039 registered electors,
The county is in the Connaught circuit : the assizes and general sessions of the peace are held at Sligo ; general sessions of the peace are also held four times in the year at Ballymote and Easky, in each of which towns there are a court-house and bridewell, but the county gaol and court-house are in the town of Sligo.
The district lunatic asylum is at Ballinasloe, but the greater part of the lunatics belonging to the county are kept in the county gaol : the county infirmary and fever hospital are in Sligo ; there are dispensaries at Ballymote, Carney, Castleconner, Collooney, Coolaney, Dromore West, Riverstown, St. John’s Sligo, and Tubbercorry.
The local government is vested in a lieutenant, 10 deputy-lieutenants, and 83 other magistrates. There are 31 constabulary police stations, having a force of a stipendiary magistrate, a sub-inspector, five chief officers, 34 constables, 120 men, and six horses. The Grand Jury presentments for 1835 amounted to £22,231. 17, 7½., of which £1382. 11. 1. was for the making and repairing of the roads, bridges, &c., of the county at large ; £9167. 18. 7¼. for those of the baronies ; £6936. 8. 10½. for public buildings, charities, officers’ salaries and incidents ; £3202. 11. for the police ; and £1542. 8. 1½. for repayment of advances made by Government. In the military arrangements the county is included in the western district, and contains a bar rack for cavalry at Sligo, affording accommodation for seven officers, 96 non-commissioned officers and men, and 60 horses.
The surface is much varied, having near the sea coast extensive plains backed by lofty mountains. The interior is hilly, with several lakes interspersed with some rivers, which, though not of great length or size, add much to the beauty of the scenery by their romantic borders and precipitous currents. The western part of the county, which stretches along the southern shore of Donegal bay, is chiefly bog, backed likewise by a range of lofty hills.
Benbulben, in the north, is not more remarkable for its great elevation than from the singularity of its shape : it forms the western extremity of a range extending from Lough Erne ; its northern side is nearly perpendicular ; the only access to its summit, which is a table land of some extent and covered with a rich variety of plants, is by the south.
Thence to the town of Sligo the country is an extensive plain richly cultivated, Knocknaree, a mountain of considerable elevation and with an extensive base, situated on the peninsula formed by the estuaries of Sligo and Ballysadere rivers, is a very striking object in every point of view, The Ox mountains extend along the western verge of the county into Mayo : the whole of the south is rugged and hilly, rising into the high range of the Curlews on the border of Roscommon.
There are three lakes remarkable alike for size and beauty : the most northern is Lough Gill, near the town of Sligo , on the east ; it is about nine miles long and three broad, studded with islands, some of which are richly wooded, and others present an expanse of verdant meadow. Of these islands two only are inhabited, namely, Innismore, called also Church Island, from the remains of a monastic building, the cemetery of which is still used as a place of interment and where the incumbent of St. John’s, on his presentation, still takes possession ; and Cottage Island, so called from a beautiful modern lodge erected on it.
Besides these, there are 16 other islands, all more or less wooded. Lough Arrow, nearly of the same size as the preceding, but more irregular in its outline, and equally beautiful for the picturesque variety of its scenery, contains the three islands of Innismore, Innisbeg, and Annaghgowla : there is fine fishing in this lake in April and May.
At the most southern extremity of the county, and forming part of its boundary on the side of Roscommon, is Lough Gara, equally picturesque and irregular, and also studded with islands, the chief of which are named Derrymore, Inse, Inchymore, and Inchybeg,
In the Ox mountains is Lough Calt, or the High Lake, surrounded by cliffs that seem to have been thrown up by some extraordinary convulsion of nature : the lake, which is about a mile long by half a mile in breadth, is well stocked with trout of a small size, of which it is said that, while those which feed on one side of it are peculiarly ill-flavoured and misshapen, having heads exceeding the body in size, those found in other parts are of good shape and flavour.
Two rocky islets near its centre are covered during the summer months with flocks of gulls and other aquatic birds. More northwards, in the same range of mountains, is Lough Easkey.
The sea-coast is indented by numerous bays. Near the northern extremity is the harbour of Mullaghmore , where a pier, which has fifteen feet depth at high water, has been built at the expense of Lord Palmerston, for the accommodation of the fishermen. This part of Lord Palmerston’s estate is much injured by the spreading of the sand over the surface to the depth of several feet, which is attributed to the pulling up of the bent that grew along the shore.
Further south is Milkhaven, an inlet of some extent, but difficult of access, and fit only for vessels of small draught ; at its entrance is Carrig-na-Spaniahg, or “the Spanish rock,” so called from the loss of one of the vessels of the Armada which struck upon it.
At Rinoreen Point, improperly called Gessigo, the coast expands into Sligo bay, by an opening five miles broad to its further extremity at Aughris head. On the northern side is the elevated peninsula of Raughly , connected with the sand hills on the shore by a narrow neck of land. The bay then divides into three inlets, of which that in the middle leading to Sligo is the only one of importance, the others being rocky and nearly dry at low water : the northern from the shores of which come the Lisadill oysters, is called Drumcliffe bay; the southern is the embouchure of Ballysadere river, at the entrance of which is a very profitable turbot bank. Ballysadere river is navigable to the village, where there is as good anchorage for shipping as at Sligo : during the last three years there has been a considerable export from it of oats and oatmeal, and an import of coal,
Salmon are prevented from going up this river by a ledge of rock which crosses it and forms a very fine waterfall. The passage up to Sligo, which is five miles from the coast, is tortuous and difficult ; vessels of large size must lie at the mouth, as there is only ten feet of water at the quay; they are, however, well protected by Oyster island and Coney island, which form a natural breakwater at the entrance ; the former of these islands has a bed of oysters of large size but inferior in flavour to those of Lisadill, South of Coney island is Magin’s island, of small dimensions. Innismurray lies two leagues out at sea on the northern coast, rising into a precipitous cliff towards the ocean, but shelving down like steps on that towards the land : it has but one entrance, called by the inhabitants “the Hole“ : a description of it is given under its own head.
From Aughris head the coast takes a western direction along a rocky shore to the opening into Killala bay, and thence to the mouth of the Moy, which forms the boundary of the county, and opens into the harbours of Ballina and Killala.
The climate is very temperate, but so variable that the best barometers are uncertain as to the indications of wet or dry weather. The whole county may be called a tillage country, although there are numerous tracts more peculiarly suited to the fattening of cattle. In the north the soil is either a thin turf moss, on a free-stone gravelly bottom, or a thin sandy loam skirted with large tracts of bog.
In proceeding southward the soil becomes less moory, deeper, and richer. The vicinity of Sligo presents a plain of great fertility, resting on a substratum of limestone or calcareous gravel. The central baronies to the south of the town are the most fertile, being covered, except where interrupted by hills, with a very rich deep soil, well suited to the growth of wheat, potatoes, and every kind of green crop.
In the most southern extremity the soil changes its character with the aspect of the surface, the rocky mountain tracts being covered with a stratum of freestone gravel and rock, interspersed with land of excellent quality fit for every kind of tillage or for pasturage. In the west the soil is light and gravelly, with large tracts of black bog and moory mountain, much of which is capable of improvement, but the best land in the entire county is around Ballymote.
Throughout most parts there occurs a substratum called lac-leigh, which is corrupted Irish for “a grey flag;” it is found from nine to twelve inches beneath the surface, and is, when undisturbed, perfectly impervious, and therefore retentive of water. Silicious marl in a concrete state seems to be its principal ingredient. It effervesces slightly with acids, is of a leaden grey colour, and when dug up and exposed to the atmosphere, resolves into a coarse-grained friable powder. Its presence would be a complete bar to the progress of tillage, were it not that experience has proved that, when dug up and well incorporated with the superincumbent soil, it improves the compost, and, when broken through, the ground below consists of a limestone gravel, into which the water retained by the stubborn shell is immediately absorbed. Trenching the land for potatoes breaks the stratum, and carries off the water so effectually that no other drains are necessary.
The size of farms varies from three acres and even less to 400 or 500 ; those of larger size were formerly held by several tenants in partnership, and consisted usually of a small portion of tillage land to which an extensive tract of coarse mountain and bottom land was annexed, but this mode of tenure is on the decline : most of the large farms are now held by one individual and consist chiefly of pasture land.
Tillage has increased rapidly; the principal crops are oats and potatoes, very little wheat being sown. The rotation system and green crops are common with the gentry, and, through the laudable exertions of Mr. Cooper, and Major O’Hara, who have formed farming societies for the diffusion of agricultural knowledge, and for improvements in rural economy by means of premiums, they are gradually extending among the small farmers.
A pair of horses abreast and driven by the ploughman is now often seen ; a pair of asses may also be frequently seen ploughing instead of horses. Oxen were formerly used under the plough, but never at present.
In the mountainous districts much of the tillage is performed by the spade or loy. Natural manures are found in the greatest abundance in every part ; sea-sand, which is collected in large quantities along the coast, proves an excellent manure for potatoes, when spread some time before the seed is planted, as otherwise the potato produced by it is wet ; lime, marl, and sea-weed are also used.
Vast beds of oyster shells stretch along different parts of the shore, and are even found in the interior, at some miles from the coast, at an elevation of 60 feet above high water mark ; they make the best manure ; even the sand in which they are imbedded is so impregnated with calcareous particles as to be used beneficially for the same purpose.
The fences in some parts are broad ditches faced with stone or sods, and sometimes planted with quicksets ; in others they are dry stone walls, which give a denuded and sterile appearance to the parts in which they are used. The soil is peculiarly adapted to pasturage ; the rich low lands fatten bullocks of the largest size for the Dublin and English markets.
On the hilly districts towards the west, sheep are grazed in large flocks, and on those in the interior herds of young cattle are reared. On some of the mountains the sheep and horses are subject to a disease called the staggers, that often proves fatal, yet horned cattle feeding on the same pasture are never subject to it.
Near Ardnaree cattle are affected with a disease called “crasson,” in every apparent symptom similar to the gout ; in the early stage of the complaint, feeding with hot bran has proved an infallible remedy. The favourite breed of cattle is a cross between the Durham and the native cow ; that between the long-horned Leicester and the native is also much esteemed ; equal attention is paid to the breed of sheep.
Around Sligo and Ballymote are some excellent dairy farms, and butter is made by all the small farmers, by much the greater part of which is shipped at Sligo for the British market,
Good horses are brought from Galway and Roscommon ; the native breed is small, light, and unsightly. Pigs are numerous, of large size and very profitable. Goats, which are sometimes seen on the small farms and near the mountains, are of small size and by no means numerous,
The land indicates a strong tendency to produce timber spontaneously : the escars are generally covered with brushwood ; and even among the clefts of the rocks in the mountain glens the oak, hazel, yew, holly, and beech shoot forth, requiring only protection from the inroads of cattle to come to maturity.
Around the mansions of the gentry there are large and thriving plantations ; planting forest trees in hedgerows is becoming every year more customary. The only trees that thrive near the coast are the sycamore and the willow, whose pliancy allows them to give way under the pressure of the blasts from the Atlantic . Alder also flourishes for a time in these exposed situations, but soon decays. The arbutus grows spontaneously, but does not attain the same size as in the south-western counties. Myrtle is to be seen in great abundance in sheltered situations.
The county forms the north-western extremity of the great central floetz limestone field of Ireland , interrupted in two places by the mica slate formation, one to the south of Lough Gill, the other along the western mountain range, which in its utmost extent stretches from Foxford in Mayo, by Collooney, to Manor-Hamilton in Leitrim. This range is very narrow, seldom exceeding three miles, and at Collooney being less than a quarter of a mile in breadth,
It is generally succeeded by beds of red or yellowish sandstone or by limestone. The sandstone formation is of very unequal thickness and irregular in its arrangement, in some places rising into mountains, in others not exceeding 20 or 30 feet in height : it is sometimes, though rarely, interstratified with red or grey sandstone slate, in which case its resemblance to that of the coal formation has led to expensive and illusory attempts to obtain this valuable mineral. Iron-ore is abundant in many places, particularly at Ballintogher and at the base of the Ox mountains.
Near Screevenamuck are extensive excavations whence the ore was raised as long as timber could be procured to make charcoal for smelting it : the last furnace was extinguished in 1768,
Lead-ore has been found in Several parts of the limestone district, and worked for some time feebly and unprofitably. A silver mine, which produced some specimens of very pure metal, was worked near Ballysadere. Iron pyrites and sulphate of copper are often found in small detached pieces, and some pure specimens of the latter metal were found in the Awenmore and Collooney rivers ; black oxyde of manganese is often seen on the surface and very large pieces of the ore have been found in several parts. At the foot of some of the mountains, and in the beds of some rivers, carbonate of copper and various kinds of ochre, all indicative of extensive mineral deposits, have been discovered ; as also very large and beautiful amethysts in the neighbourhood of Ballymote.
The linen manufacture was introduced into Sligo by the spirited exertions of Lord Shelburne, who, in 1749, brought thither a colony of weavers and settled them on his estate at Ballymote, then a thinly inhabited and almost uncultivated waste, whose population was employed solely in the herding of cattle. The death of this nobleman for a time checked the progress of the manufacture, but it revived under the guidance of Mr. Fitzmaurice, who, on succeeding to the estate, after having made himself practically acquainted with all the processes of the trade, superintended the establishment in person, and thus powerfully stimulated those engaged in it.
Each weaver was provided with a cottage, half a rood of land for a potato garden, and grass for a cow, thus affording him the means of subsistence for his family without allowing his time or thoughts to be distracted from his main-business by the details of a small farm. This well-devised exertion gave a turn to the public mind throughout the country, and led to the establishment of the manufacture on a general scale, which flourished for many years.
The manufacture of unions, a mixed fabric of linen and cotton, has been introduced and is carried on extensively. Mr. Fitzmaurice also encouraged the erection of bleach-greens upon a large scale, and having built very extensive bleach-works near the town of Denbigh , in North Wales , he purchased the brown linens in every market of Sligo and the adjoining counties, and thus greatly benefited both Wales and Ireland .
The linen trade is still the staple of the county, and though by no means so prosperous or extensive as formerly, a brisk trade in it is still carried on : there are four bleach-greens in full operation, finishing nearly 40,000 pieces annually, which are principally shipped for England and generally destined for the American markets. Coarse woollen cloths and friezes are made for domestic use, and a very extensive trade is carried on in the purchase of flannels, druggets, stockings, and other fabrics of Connaught manufacture,
Merchants from many parts of Ireland , but particularly from Ulster , come to Sligo to meet the Connaught factors. The only other branches of trade, except as connected with the port of Sligo , are tanning, distilling, and brewing. Kelp is made around the greater part of the coast, but since the reduction of the duty on barilla, this source of employment has declined considerably, and by much the greater portion of the plant now collected is used as manure, being dried by the peasantry near the shore, by whom it is sold to the farmers of the interior, who draw it home to distances of 20 miles and upwards.
Fish is taken in large quantities off the coast, of which cod, haddock, and turbot are the most abundant kinds, except herrings, which appear here in vast shoals ; but as the boats and nets are badly constructed and very incomplete in their equipments, little advantage is taken of this productive source of wealth,
Sprats are also taken in great quantities ; indeed this is the only kind of fishing for which either the boats or tackle are adapted. Oysters of excellent flavour are found in several beds : those of Lissadill are the most sought after ; great numbers are sent to Dublin , where they are sometimes more highly esteemed than even the Carlingford oysters.
A very extensive and profitable salmon fishery is carried on at Ballina, on the river Moy, which separates this county from Mayo ; there is another very valuable fishery at the town of Sligo , and others of minor importance in some of the smaller inlets.
The rivers of the county are few, and short in their course, but generally rapid ; that which flows from Lough Gill is usually called the Sligo river, from its passing through the town, but its proper name is the Garvogue. The water of Ballysadere, also thus named from the town, but properly called the Awenshien, is formed by the river Arrow, which flows from the lake of that name, and forms a junction with the Owenmore and the Owenbeg, near the town of Collooney; the united waters form the first-named river, and flowing northward to Ballysadere, over a succession of cascades, form the greater horn of Sligo bay.
The river Moy rises in the Ox mountains and flows nearly south, through the barony of Leney, where it enters the county of Mayo, flowing westward through the barony of Gallen, and shortly after turning due north it meets the waters of Loughs Conn and Cullen ; thence it proceeds by Foxford to Ardmore, where it becomes the boundary between Sligo and Mayo ; thence by Ballina, Rosserick Abbey, and Moyne, to the sea, where it opens into the spacious bay of Killala.
The entrance of the Moy, which had been impassable for vessels of any size in consequence of the bar at its mouth, has been rendered navigable for ships of large burden, which can now come up to the town of Ballina ; this important improvement is chiefly owing to the exertions of John Levington, Esq., a merchant in the town.
The Eask rises in Lough Eask between the Ox-mountains and Knocknaree, and flows due north to the sea parallel with the Moy. There are many smaller rivers and streams, particularly among the mountains, all tributary to one of those above mentioned.
The roads are numerous in the eastern part of the county, and generally well laid out and in good order.
A new line, lately completed between Ballysadere and Ballina, through the western baronies into Mayo, must prove of incalculable advantage, by facilitating the communication between the two counties, and affording a vent for the produce of the district it traverses, which was hitherto nearly unprofitable for want of such an outlet. The road is constructed on the most scientific principles.
At Drumcliffe are the remains of a round tower of coarser construction and smaller dimensions than any other now known ; it is considerably injured by time : at the same place are two stone crosses, one in a perfect state, the other much mutilated and decayed.
About two miles from Sligo, on the Dublin road, the ground is overspread to a great extent with druidical circles, called, by the peasantry, Giants’ Graves : one of them, called Lugna Clogh, is a cromlech of large stones, under which human bones have been found. The name of Giants’ houses has been given to a number of grottoes hollowed out of the west side of the hill or rock of Corron, to which access is obtained only by a steep and very difficult entrance : their origin or use has not been satisfactorily ascertained.
About a mile from Castleconnor several vaulted square rooms have been discovered, built of large stones and communicating. with each other by an exterior circular passage ; in the centre is a cavity unconnected with any of the other chambers ; it is conjectured to have been either a granary or a cemetery of the Ostmen.
On Innismurray island are some small chapels of great antiquity, in one of which is a rudely sculptured statue of wood, said to represent St. Molasse, the patron ; these relics are more particularly described in the account of the island, which see.
A circular stone fort, called Knockamoyle Skreen, stands on the summit of a high hill near Skreen church. Many cairns and remains of what seem to have been places of defence are visible on Knocknaree mountain.
The vestiges of monastic institutions are very numerous : the ruins of those of Ballysadere, Ballindown, Ballinley, Ballymote, Bennada, Clonymeaghan, Court, Innismore, Innismurray, and Sligo, are still remaining ; some of them are large and very handsome ; those of Bile, Drumcliffe, Drumcollum, Drumratt, Killaraght, Kilmacoen, Kilnemanagh, and Skreen have been converted into parish churches ; those of Achonry, Agharois, Akeras, Ardnary, Ardseinlis, Athmoy, Caille, Caillevinde, Cashel, Craobhgrellain, Druimederdalogh, Druimlias, Druimna, Echenach or Enaceich, Emlyfadd, Enachaird, Gleandallain, Kilchairpre, Killuathren, Kilrasse, Knockmore, Snamluther, and Templehouse are known only by name.
In the yard which surrounds the church of Kilmacteige, near Bennada, are the ruins of an ancient building, said to have been a college, but no particulars of its history are known.
The principal ancient castles, all more or less in ruins, are those of Ardnaglass, Bahy, Ballyhara, Ballymote, Ballynafad, Castleconnor, Enniscrone, Lackan, Memleck, Newtown, O’Gara, Rallee, Roselee, Sligo, and Tanrago. The modern residences of the gentry, which are very numerous and in many instances highly ornamental, are more particularly noticed in their respective parishes.
The habitations of the peasantry are very mean but progressively improving : the walls are sometimes of stone, but more generally of sods roofed with sticks and thatched with heath and straw, or rushes, in alternate layers.
The fuel is turf : the use of coal brought from England, Wales, and Scotland, in trading vessels which return laden with grain, is confined to the town of Sligo and its vicinity.
The food is potatoes with an occasional admixture of oaten bread, milk, eggs, fresh or salted herrings, and other sea-fish.
The clothing is chiefly homemade frieze, The women are dressed in stuffs and druggets of domestic manufacture ; cottons for upper garments are now much worn, and few are to be seen without stockings and shoes, at least on Sundays and holidays.
The English language is generally spoken through every part of the county, but elderly people in the mountainous districts still speak Irish.
A striking difference is perceptible between the population here and that of the northern counties : the former is a much more diminutive race, and the character of the countenance indicates a different origin. Early marriages are encouraged, and the ceremony is attended with much expense : the favourite season for marrying is from Christmas to Lent, being that least occupied in agriculture.
The disputes arising at fairs or markets, or in their dealings with each other, were frequently and are still occasionally decided by arbitration before persons chosen by the parties at variance : these judges are called Brehons, and are generally recompensed for the loss of time devoted to hearing the cause by being regaled with whiskey at the expense of the parties ; but these customs are falling into disuse, and most of the disputes are now taken to the petty or quarter sessions.
Attendance on the wakes of deceased friends and neighbours is another source of expense. The estimation in which a man has been held during life is judged of by the attendance on these occasions and at his funeral : to be absent is therefore considered a serious offence, and much expense is incurred in procuring the necessary refreshments for the numbers that attend.
Although this ancient custom of waking the corpse and attending the funeral is still kept up, the Irish cry or howl is now rarely heard. In the mountain parish of Kilmacteige there is a tract of country which for several years has scarcely ever been free from a low malignant typhus fever, of which great numbers die after a lingering illness of fifteen or twenty days : the cause is attributed to the moist and chilly nature of the soil, and not to any peculiarity in the dietetics of the people.
In the same parish are two wells much resorted to for devotional purposes : one of them, called Tubber Art, is celebrated for its efficacy in restoring to health persons whose cases had proved hopeless under the ordinary modes of treatment.
In a rock near the entrance to the old church in Innismore, or Church Island, in Lough Gill, is a cavity called “ My Lady’s Bed,” in which women who lie down and repeat a certain formulary believe themselves to be secured from the peril of death in childbed.
Among the natural curiosities may be mentioned a singular peculiarity in a stream in Glenduff, in which, when the wind blows strong from the south-west, at every gust the stream, which flows perpendicularly down the mountain, is divided into two, and one part flows to the bottom, while the other is carried back up the mountain, and as long as the gust continues the channel of the stream is quite dry.
At the base of Knocknaree mountain is a chasm, commonly called “The Glen,” apparently formed by some violent convulsion of nature : it is about a ‘mile long, of considerable breadth and depth, in several parts well furnished with trees and enlivened by small cascades. Sulphureous and chalybeate springs are found among the mountains of Tyreragh, where also the common spring and river waters are peculiarly pure and pellucid.
This county gives the title of Marquess to the family of Browne.
SLIGO, a sea-port, assize, borough, market and post-town, in the barony of UPPER CARBERY, county of SLIGO, and province of Connaught, 20¾ miles (S. W.) from Ballyshannon, and 103¾ (N. W.) from Dublin ; containing 15,152 inhabitants. This place, which is the chief town of the county, is indebted for its importance to one of the first English settlers in Ireland.
So early as 1242 a castle was erected here by Maurice Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, and at that time Lord Justice of Ireland. The same Earl, in 1252, founded also a monastery, which he dedicated to the Holy Cross, for friars of the order of St. Dominick, the origin of which establishment has by some writers been erroneously ascribed to O’Conor Sligo.
In 1270 the town and the castle were destroyed by O’Donell ; but the monastery escaped the ravages of that chieftain, and the castle was afterwards rebuilt by Richard, Earl of Ulster, in 1310. In 1360 the town was again destroyed by fire, and in 1394 it was plundered and burnt by Mac William Burgh.
In 1414 the monastery was wholly consumed by an accidental fire, and for its restoration Pope John XXII. granted indulgences to all who should visit it and contribute towards the expense of rebuilding it. In 1416 it was rebuilt by Bryan Mac Dermot Mac Donchaigh, or Mac Donagh ; and in 1454 Bryan Mac Donagh, sole monarch of Toroilill (now the barony of Tiraghrill), was interred within its walls, It continued to flourish till the dissolution, when it was granted to Sir William Taaffe.
At the commencement of the reign of Jas, I., a grant of a market and two annual fairs to be held here was made to Sir Jas. Fullerton ; and in 1613 the town was made a parliamentary borough by charter of incorporation. In 1621, it received a charter of the staple, incorporating a mayor, two constables and merchants, with the same powers as those of Youghal.
In 1627 Sir James Craig had a fresh grant of a market and two fairs, which in 1674 were granted to William, Earl of Stafford, and Thomas Radcliffe, Esq. In the war of 1641 the town was taken without opposition by Sir Chas. Coote, at the head of an army of 4000 infantry and 500 horse. By his occupation of this post, Sir Charles had the means of keeping a check upon the royalists of the neighbouring counties ; but the R. C. Archbishop of Tuam with great zeal collected forces for the recovery of the town, in which attempt he was joined by Sir Jas, Dillon, who was sent by the confederates to Kilkenny with 800 men to his assistance, and having forced his way into the town was on the point of expelling the parliamentarians, when he was suddenly alarmed by the intelligence of an army being on its approach to their relief.
Upon this the confederated forces retired, and in their retreat were attacked and routed by Sir Chas. Coote ; the archbishop was killed in the action, and among his papers were found the important documents that exposed the connection of the King with the Catholic party. The parliamentarians afterwards abandoned the town, which, though threatened again by Sir Chas. Coote on his advance against Limerick, in 1651, was retained by the Catholics till the termination of the war.
In the war of the revolution it was taken by the brave Enniskilleners, who also defeated a large body of James’s forces that were advancing against it, and took from them a considerable booty; but the garrison was shortly after driven out by Gen. Sarsfield, and the place was finally reduced by the Earl of Granard.
The town is now the property chiefly of Lord Palmerston and Owen Wynne, of Hazelwood, Esq. It is advantageously situated on the banks of the river Garvogue, which connects Lough Gill with the bay of Sligo, opening to the Atlantic ; the river is about two miles and a half in length, and the town is situated on the extremity of it nearest the sea, where it is narrowest. This river is navigable from Lough Gill to the town ; but a weir across it prevents the navigation thence to the sea, to the great injury of the commercial interests of the place.
The greater portion of the town is on the south side of the river, in the parish of St. John, and is connected with the smaller portion, in the parish of Calry, on the north side, by two bridges. The streets are irregularly formed, which detracts much from its internal appearance, though the houses are chiefly of respectable character, and there are several of a superior order ; as seen, however, in combination with the surrounding scenery, it forms an interesting and pleasing feature in the landscape from many points of view in the vicinity : the total number of houses is 2238.
It is lighted and paved under a local act of the 43rd of Geo. III., the provisions of which are stated in the subsequent account of the corporation ; and the inhabitants are supplied with water from public pumps, kept in repair by the commissioners appointed under the above-named act. A public library and two reading-rooms are supported by subscription ; and a newspaper is published every Saturday.
There is a small theatre, which is very irregularly attended ; races are generally held annually in August on the race- course of Bomore, about five miles from the town ; and a regatta is held on Lough Gill, which is very numerously attended.
The barracks for cavalry are capable of accommodating 7 officers and 96 non-commissioned officers and privates, with stabling for 60 horses ; an excellent hospital for 15 patients is annexed to them. There are a few linen and stocking weavers, who work on their own account, but no large factories ; the linen trade, formerly carried on here to some extent, has almost ceased, and the linen-hall is unoccupied.
A distillery belonging to Messrs. Martin, Madden, and Co., manufactures 120,000 gallons of whiskey annually and affords employment to 55 persons ; there are four public breweries, and several manufactories for soap, candles, snuff, tobacco, hats, ropes, and cables ; also several extensive flour-mills. The trade is facilitated by the river, which is navigable through Lough Gill and supplies the town with turf and other necessaries,
The maritime trade of the port is the chief source of the prosperity of the town, and its rapid increase may be ascertained from the fact that, in the year 1800, the number of vessels that entered the port was 65, of the aggregate burden of 4100 tons ; while in the year 1830, the number of vessels was 540, and their aggregate burden, 57,015 tons.
In 1834, 47 vessels in the foreign trade entered inwards and 2 cleared outwards, and 354 in the coasting and crosschannel trade entered inwards and 508 cleared outwards : there were 17 vessels belonging to the port in that year, The principal exports are corn, butter, and provisions ; and the chief imports, iron, timber, salt, and every article of West India produce, which are distributed over a very large tract of country, this being the only port of importance between Londonderry and Galway.
The amount of duties paid at the custom-house, in 1826, was £33,565 ; in 1830, £36,325 ; and in 1836, £35,864. The amount of excise duties collected in the revenue district of which this town is the head, for 1835, was £44,180. The custom-house and the King’s warehouses, which are the property of the crown, are well adapted to the purposes for which they were built ; and the quays, which are very commodious, and are kept in good repair by the commissioners, have a depth of water of 12 feet at spring tides, which will allow vessels of 300 tons burden to moor close to them.
Many emigrants from this and the neighbouring counties sail hence annually for America. The principal markets are on Tuesday and Saturday for provisions and agricultural produce ; they are well attended. A market for corn and another for butter are open daily in buildings erected for them by Owen Wynne, Esq. Fairs, chiefly for cattle, are held on the 27th of March, the Saturday after the 1st of May (0. S.), 4th of July, 12th of August, and 9th of October.
There is a large salmon fishery in the river, with which is connected a pond, the property of Abr. Martin, Esq., so constructed that the fish can easily enter but cannot quit it, by which means there is a supply of fresh salmon at all times. A chief constabulary police station has been established here ; and it is also the residence of the inspecting commander of the Sligo coast-guard district, which comprises the five subordinate stations of Inniscrone, Pallocherry, Pullendiva, Rochley, and Mullaghmore.
Sligo bay is situated between Aughris Head and Rinoran Point, which last is in the charts improperly named Gessigo : it is about five miles in breadth at the mouth, and extends as much inland ; the upper part divides into three inlets, of which the central one only, leading to the town, is of importance, as each of the others has a bar and is nearly dry at low water.
On the north side is Raughly, a small peninsula of rising ground, connected by a low narrow neck with some sand hills on the shore ; at its south-west side is the Wheaten rock, extending nearly half a mile N. E. and S, W., and partly dry at spring tides, At the south end of Raughly, about two cables’ length off the shore, are the Bird rocks ; about half a mile to the eastward a vessel may lie in moderate weather in 2½ fathoms,and there is a small pier with 12 feet of water inside the point.
At the distance of one mile south from Raughly is the point of the reef called Bungarr, or Blackrock, extending to the north end of Coney island, having the western part entirely and the rest nearly dry at low water ; a lighthouse has been erected on it, and the channel into Sligo lies close along its north side : shallows from this point towards Lissadill form the bar of Sligo, on which are only 10 feet at low water. Ships drawing 12 feet of water should take half flood into the harbour, for with westerly winds there is generally a heavy sea between Raughly and the point of Ross. Two lighthouses have been erected on Oyster lsland.
By a charter dated the 20th of March, 11th of Jas, I., the town was incorporated under the name of the “Provost and free Burgesses of the borough of Sligo ;“ the corporate body to consist of a provost, 12 free burgesses, and a commonalty. The provost, who is elected annually, is judge of the borough court, which is a court of record with civil jurisdiction to the amount of £3. 6. 8., and still continues to be held weekly : he is also clerk of the market. The burgesses are elected for life by the provost and the other burgesses. Usage, confirmed by a judgment of the court of King’s bench, has given the right of admission to the freedom wholly to the provost and burgesses.
The charter also constitutes the corporation a guild mercatory : the subordinate officers are a town-clerk and recorder, a weighmaster and two serjeants-at- mace. A charter granted by Jas, II., in the 4th year of his reign, has not been acted upon. By a local act of the 30th of Geo. II., c. 21, it was directed that the corporation should be conservators of the port and should maintain a ballast-office ; and subsequently, by an act of the 40th of Geo. III,, c. 49, for the management of the concerns of the town, amended by another of the 43rd of Geo. III., c. 60, commissioners were appointed, consisting of the representatives of the county and borough, the provost and burgesses, and 24 others, resident in the town or within five miles of it, and to be elected by holders of houses of the yearly value of £20, who are empowered to regulate the paving, flagging, lighting, watching, and improving the town ; to regulate the markets, and also the carriages and porters ; to improve the quays and to make and repair the docks and wharfs ; to improve the port and harbour, to regulate the pilotage, and to assess taxes at a maximum of 2s. 6d. in the pound on all houses of the annual value of £5 and upwards, for defraying the expenses incurred in the execution of these duties, The commissioners are also empowered to raise a fund for these purposes to the amount of £2000 for the town, aiid £6000 for the harbour.
The boundary of their jurisdiction is fixed at a distance of a mile from the market cross in every direction, By letters patent of Chas. II,, in the 27th of his reign, the town and certain lands were erected into the manor of Sligo, with a court baron with civil jurisdiction to the amount of 40s., a court of record with civil jurisdiction to the amount of £100, and a court leet to be held before the seneschal ; no manor courts are now held.
The only property belonging to the corporation consists of about 19½ acres of land, which was formerly a common, let at £98. 3. 4. per ann. ; and a plot of a rood of ground, formerly a pound, but now built upon, let at £10 per annum. The charter also conferred upon the provost and burgesses the privilege of returning two members to the Irish parliament, which they exercised till the Union, since which time they have returned one member only to the Imperial parliament.
The right of election, previously vested in the corporation, has by the recent act for amending the representation been extended to the £10 householders within the borough, the limits of which are the same as those defined by acts for the purpose of local taxation already referred to, and are minutely described in the Appendix. The provost is the returning officer, The assizes and the general sessions of the peace for the county are held here, the latter four times in the year ; petty sessions for the division are also held every Thursday.
The court-house, though a spacious and well-arranged building, to which are attached the public offices, is too limited for the public business, The county gaol is a handsome and substantial building, erected on the polygonal plan at an expense of £30,000 ; the governor’s house is in the centre, and the debtors’ ward and the hospital form two advanced wings ; it is well adapted to the classification of the prisoners, each of whom has a separate sleeping cell ; it has a tread-mill for hard labour, a school, and a surgery and dispensary within its walls : and all its departments are under excellent regulations, and it is in high repute for discipline and good order.
The borough comprises the greater part of the parish of St. John and part of the parish of Calry, the former on the south, and the latter on the north side of the river. The patronage of the parish of St. John has been lately given to Trinity College, Dublin, the Provost and Senior Fellows of which will present the next and all the succeeding incumbents, The soil is fertile, the lands generally in a good state of cultivation, and the System of agriculture much improved.
The scenery is preasingly diversified and in many parts beautifully picturesque ; the view of the town at the head of the bay, environed by mountains and embosomed in a richly cultivated country, is strikingly romantic, especially in the approach from Dromahaire ; and on the road from Manor-Hamilton is a point where, emerging from the mountains, a spacious and magnificent scene, embracing the whole of the town with its surrounding district, opens at once on the view.
The approach to Sligo by the Dublin road is also very beautiful, havinig Lough Gill with Hazelwood demesne on the east ; the bay of Sligo, with its two bold headlands of Benbulben and Knockaree, on the west ; and in the centre the highly picturesque town of Sligo, Among the various residences that embellish the neighbourhood the most conspicuous is Hazelwood, the seat of Owen Wynne, Esq., a noble mansion, situated on a peninsula stretching into Lough Gill, and surrounded by a richly wooded demesne, commanding beautiful views over the lake and its wooded islands, terminated by the mountains which rise from its shores on the south.
Adjoining Hazelwood is the beautiful demesne of Holywell, lately the residence of the Hon. and Rev. Jos. Butler, brother of Lord Carrick and rector of Dromahaire. There are also in the vicinity of the town the following seats, besides those noticed in the accounts of the parishes of St. John and Calry, which see: Craig, the seat of the Hon. Robert King ; Lissadill, of Sir Robt. Gore Booth, Bart. : Kivinsfort, of G. Dodwell, Esq. ;
Primrose Grange, of G. D. Meredith, Esq. ; Glen House, of M. Walsh, Esq. ; Rathcarrick, of Roger Walker, Esq. ; Clover Hill, of W. C. Chambers, Esq. ; Clogher, of R. Holmes, Esq. ; Ballyglass, of Gowan Gilmor, Esq. ; Millbrook, of J. C. Simpson, Esq. ; Seafield, of W. Phibbs, Esq. ; Moneygold, of J. Soden, Esq. ; Ballytevreare House, of H. Griffiths, Esq. ; Grange, of the Rev. C. West ; Cairnsfort, of Major Bromhead ; Belleville, of F. O’Beirne, Esq. ; Dunally, of W. Parke, Esq. ; Colga, of Travers Homan, Esq. ; Seamount, of Jeremy Jones, Esq. ; Thornhill, of Lieut. H. J. Clifford, R. N. ; Farm Hill, of Dr. Walker ; and Ballywillen, of H. Bolton, Esq. The neighbourhood is resorted to as a bathing-place, but not to any great extent,
The church of St. John’s parish is an old cruciform building, in excellent repair, in the later style of English architecture, with a massive square tower at the west end. The glebe-house is situated on a glebe of one acre close to the church. The church of Calry, which is also in the town, is a respectable building in the Gothic style, with a well- proportioned spire ; it was erected in 1822, at an expense of £3500, in which is included the expense of the erection of a house, offices, and garden-wall for the perpetual curate, whose appointment belongs to the vicar of St. John’s. The R. C. chapel of the parish of St. John is a structure of spacious dimensions ; and there is also in the town a small Dominican convent, with a chapel attached to it.
There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster (of the third class), Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists in connection with the Established Church. St. John’s parochial school is supported by the incumbent and the proceeds of charity sermons ; a school for children of both sexes is supported in connection with the National Board of Education ; a school is also supported by the trustees of Erasmus Smith’s charity and the Incorporated society; the St. John’s female school, in which a large Sunday school is also held, is supported by subscription ; and there is a female school in the parish of Calry.
The late William Draper, Esq., left £18 per ann. to be divided among three Protestant servant girls who had served three years in a Protestant family. The county infirmary is a handsome building of hewn limestone, erected in 1819 at an expense of £3000 : it contains six wards for 30 patients, with officers’ apartments and every other requisite.
The fever hospital is a well-arranged and handsome structure in an airy and healthful situation on the summit of a hill; it contains eight wards, and has a dispensary attached to it : these three institutions are within the same enclosure ; there is also a dispensary in the parish of St. John. A mendicity association is supported by private subscriptions and donations.
There are some remains of the beautiful and spacious monastery of Sligo, serving to convey some idea of its former magnificence : they consist of three sides of the cloisters, with a finely vaulted roof, and are separated from the quadrangle by a long series of pillars, of which several are sculptured, and of pointed arches, in the early English style of architecture. The great east window of the church is of beautiful design and highly enriched with tracery; the high altar, which is embellished with sculpture in relief, is almost hidden by the accumulation of disinterred bones ; the nave is spacious, and the roof is supported by ranges of pillars at intervals of four feet from each other ; the central tower is complete, with the exception only of the battlements ; to the right of the high altar is the tomb of O’Conor, with the effigies of himself and his lady, and there are numerous vaults and cells.