History of Sligo, Ireland

In a former publication the writer has related the "History of Sligo, County and Town, from the earliest ages to the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth," and the present volume takes up the narration from the accession of James I. to that of William and Mary. The information contained in Chapter xvi. as connected with the stirring events which occurred in and around Sligo during the Revolution of 1688 is in great part re-produced from a previous account given by the same writer in "Sligo and the Enniskilleners."

During this struggle, the strange recapture of the town of Sligo by Gore (pp. 119-121) is one of the most interesting episodes that occurred in Sligo; and the account of it does not rest on the authority of Hamilton alone, for in the Macariae Excidium, edited by O'Callaghan, it is stated that "Sarsfield, a young captain, beloved of the soldiers, commanding at that time some troops about Sligo, to defend this part of Connaught from incursions from Ulster, upon the first notice of this over- throw (Newtown-Butler) quitted Sligo, and never rested until he marched along to Athlone, leaving the province of Con- naught exposed to the enemy." A writer of the same school the author of "The Williamite and Jacobite Wars"^also remarks that "Sarsfield appears to have had some blame for this (the sudden evacuation of Sligo), but he did not merit it. The panic had seized his men before he was aware of it, and left him powerless and without an army."

Many anecdotes of this eventful time have been omitted, as they appeared to be based upon no substantial foundation of fact. There is one taken from "The Recollections of John O'Keeffe" which may be viewed as a good example of this class, its tenor being altogether opposed to the generally accepted opinion of the character of James II. O'Keeffe states that " in 1765, at Sligo, I had seen John O'Brien, who had served at the battle of the Boyne. He was a fine old man, and told me many interesting and circumstantial anecdotes relative to that day. One, that a gunner told King James that at that very precise moment, his gun was so pointed, he could at a twinkle end the dispute for the three crowns; but James for- bade him, and the nephew and son-in-law were (P was) thus saved."

Reliance may, however, sometimes be placed on oral tradition, for it is surprising how, occasionally, the span of even two lives bridge an almost incredible space of time. A person still alive in the county Sligo was personally acquainted with one of the naval officers who sailed with Captain Cook in his voyage of discovery, 1768-1771; and had this officer and John O'Brien, the veteran of the Boyne, met, then the span of direct oral tradition would have been extended back to 1690.


Table of Contents


X. Period of James I., 1
XI. Period of Charles I., 16
XII. - Massacre of 1641-2, 31
XIII. Hamilton's attack on Sligo, etc., 60
XIV. Battle of Sligo, etc., 75
XV. Survey and act of settlement, etc., 86
XVI. Revolution of 1688, 94


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Sligo, in common with many other parts of Ireland, had frequently we might almost say continuously felt the cruel scourge of war. Its traditional and authentic history, so far as can be traced, is distinguished principally by accounts of murderous, plundering expeditions of neighboring districts against each other, or sanguinary encounters amongst the inhabitants of various parts of the county. All the septs had apparently never been united under one really strong central authority; but in general, separate governments if such be not a too dignified expression with independent chiefs, existed in each of the six baronies into which the county is now divided. Roughly speaking, these were the limits of the territories of the six principal chiefs, i.e., O'Conor (Carbury), O'Dowd (Tireragh), O'Hara (Leyny), Two MacDonoghs (Tirerrill and Corran), and O'Gara (Coolavin); these again were divided into sub-chieftaincies, those who had tho greater power preying upon those of lesser note. The interests of these numerous petty chiefs often clashed, almost every dispute terminating in an appeal to arms; indeed, whenever one party felt sufficiently strong to invade and plunder the territories of a neighbor, he did so without scruple.