Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sligo Gaol

A great visit to Sligo Gaol, or what remains of it, on Monday. Quite a lot remains actually. Some parts have been converted to modern offices inside with the outside stonework repointed and very well maintained. Other parts especially the cell block have been left exactly as they were when it was closed in the fifties. You can walk in through the corridors and cells and get a feeling for what it was like - gloomy and claustrophobic actually.

The Gaol was built with a central Governor’s House from which the cell blocks, which formed a semi-polygon on plan, could be observed. See picture in a previous post. Within its high boundary walls there was separate accommodation for men and women, criminals, lunatics, and debtors. It was built around 1814-1820 and must be the finest surviving gaol of its time in the country.

The Governor's house still stands, see picture above, and to the left the front three storey end section and much of the left-hand side two storey blocks. Most of the structures to the right of the governor's house are gone.

A conservation plan
for the Gaol was launched on Monday by Sligo County Council and some work will start very soon. Michael Collins and Sean MacEoin were imprisoned there during the war of independence and of course Sligo IRA leader Frank Carty was rescued from the jail in 1920. The TG4 Magamedia programmes on the escape in the Ealú series was premiered in the Gaol grounds on Monday. More on that later.

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