SLIGO, a sea-port, assize, borough, market and post-town, in the barony of UPPER CARBERY, county of SLIGO, and province of CONNAUGHT, 20- miles (S. W.) from Ballyshannon, and 103- (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 neigh. bouring 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 2- 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 19- 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.