Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Sligo Times

It's quite an experience, to read a full years supply of a newspaper in one day. The Sligo Times for 1913 is an interesting paper, too interesting in some ways. I continually had to stop myself reading the bits which had no relevance to what I was looking for. I was particularly taken with the amount of entertainment available in Sligo at the time, concerts, drama, variety, opera, orchestral societies, card games etc. There were three cinemas at the time in the town - this was still the age of silent movies. This deserves a study sometime. Not now.

The Sligo Times was a short lived "Conservative" newspaper edited by Robert Smyllie, a Scotsman who moved to Sligo. He was the father of the Robert Smyllie who was a famous editor of the Irish times later. Conservative meant Unionist, anti-Home Rule but he was also trying to make a financial success of the paper so the Unionism is muted. He does report on Unionists meetings in Sligo and has some editorials criticism of the Home Rule movement and the Liberal/Irish Party coalition.

The paper is a bright breezy affair with a farmers section, a women's column, a chess feature and lots of local, national and international news. Plenty of sensationalism as well, gruesome murder and accident stories taken from English papers. In spite of this the paper was not a financial success and collapsed in February 1914. Smyllie left Sligo for Belfast and worked on a Belfast newspaper.


Niamh said...

The court pages would be interesting too I'd say...I'd be nosey that way. I was researching a local paper for 1942 and was struck by the amount of children in the district court for "crimes" like stealing a piece of wood, or onions...and the fact that the bigger the crime the smaller the coverage it got... the reverse of today.

Michael Farry said...

Yes indeed Niamh, and plenty of "family" cases, wives or husbands or both being brought up for neglect of family or children. Lots of drunk and disorderly, no lights on bicycles and even a few cases of people being charged with attempted suicide. All human life. No great reticence about publishing names either. I continually have to stop myself being sidetracked. That's another book altogether.