1st January 1837
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A snapshot of pre-famine local history, as described in the "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland" by Samuel Lewis, 1837. (The information collected here was submitted by members of the local gentry and clergy of the time).

SLIGO (County of), a maritime county of the province of CONNAUGHT, bounded on the east by county Leitrim, on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west and south by county Mayo, and on the south-east by county Roscommon.

  • It extends from 53° 53' to 54° 26' (N. Lat.), and from 8° 3' to 9° l' (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.

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'Connors, 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 County 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, 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'Connor 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 Richard Bingham in the residency 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 break 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 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 (Carbury), Coolavin, Corran, Leney (Leyny), Tiraghrill (Tirerrill), and Tyreragh.


It contains

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 town; 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 courthouse and bridewell; the county gaol and courthouse 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 Tobercurry.
  • 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. 17s. 7.50d., of which £1382. 11s. 1d., was for the making and repairing of the roads, bridges, &c., of the county at large ; £9167. 18s. 7.25d., for those of the baronies; £6936. 8s. 10.50d., for public buildings, charities, officers' salaries and incidents; £3202. 11s., for the police; and £1542. 8s. 1.50d., for repayment of advances made by Government.
  • In the military arrangements, the county is included in the western district, and contains a barrack for cavalry at Sligo, affording accommodation for seven officers, go 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 (Benbulbin), 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 tableland 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 (Knockachree), 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 or Slieve Gamph 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 county.

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, 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 or: the side of Roscommon, is Lough Gara, equally picturesque and irregular, and also studded with islands, the chief of which are named Derrymore, Insh, Inchymore, and Inchybeg.
  • In the Ox Mountains is Lough Calf, 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-favoured 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 (sea-grass) that grew along the shore.
  • Further south is Milkhayen, 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 sandhills 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".
  • 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 river 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 freestone 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 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 of 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 a small portion of tillage land to which an extensive tract of coarse mountain and bottomland 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; but 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 laudible exertions of Mr Cooper, and Major O'Hara who leave 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 sometime 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. In 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 "crassson" in every apparent symptom similar to the gout; in the early stage of the complaint, feeding the 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 an 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 oxide 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 nourished 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 drugget, 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 equipment, 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 Kilalla. 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 oaring to the exertions of John Levington, Esq., a merchant in the town. The Eask river rises in Lough Eask between the Ox Mountains and Knockachree, and flows due north to the sea parallel with the river 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 hid 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 Knockimoyle 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, Clonymeagham Court, Innismore, Innismurray, and Sligo are still remaining; some of them are large and very handsome; those of Bile, Drumcliffe, Drumcollum (Drumcolumb), Drumratt, Killaraght, Kilmacoen (Kilmacowen), Kilnemanagh, and Skreen have been converted into parish churches; those of Achonry, Agharois, Akeras, Ardnary, Ardseinlis, Athmoy, Caille, Caillevinde, Cashel, Craobhgrellain, Druimederdhlogh, Draumlias, Druimna, Echenach or Enaceich, Emlyfadd (Emlaghfad), Enachaird, Gleandallain, Kilchairpre, Killuathren, Kilrasse, Knockmore, Snamluther, and Templehouse are known only by name.
  • In the yard which surrounds the church of Killmacteige (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 home-made 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 musing 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 eases 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 Glendur, 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 Knocknachree 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.

SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)

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  • My ggg grandmother Catherine Collins need Davy lived in Drumbaun (Drimbane) near Tubbercurry (Tobercurry). Her husband was Michael Collins. Both were born around 1805, presumably somewhere nearby. They had at least 5 children, one being my gg grandfather John Collins, who emigrated to Australia in 1853. Catherine died before John emigrated, as stated on John's shipping record. Catherine may well have been a victim of the Great Famine and died of starvation or illness associated with malnutrition. We will never know. We, like the vast majority of descendants of Irish people, have no records of births, deaths and marriages, due to the destruction of records in the Four Courts and due to the systematic oppression of Irish life by the British. The only sources of family history and connection for many are the rare connections made with fellow descendants via platforms such as this, Ireland Reaching Out, and Ancestry.com.au. I would like to ask the Irish people living in Ireland to embrace any contact made from descendants living in other countries, the Irish Diaspora. I would also ask the Irish to do the Ancestry DNA test to enable Diaspora descendants to identify their family history as it is virtually impossible to answer questions pertaining to 'before' Griffiths and the Famine. It is one way to counter the ancestry vacuum left by British oppression for Irish descendants. This vacuum is not present for British descendants. Do the DNA!

    Mandy Collins

    Sunday 27th September 2020 12:25AM

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