SLIGO – 18th – 20th MAY 2018

Group outside Prison Warden’s Residence at Sligo Gaol

The Radisson Blu Hotel in Sligo was the venue for this year’s Federation AGM  which was very kindly hosted by the Sligo Field Club. There were fifty eight delegates registered for the event which was a great response from our members. Societies from all over the island were present including a significant number from the Ulster Federation. There were twenty nine societies represented from seventeen counties.


The week end activities started with dinner on the Friday night which was enjoyed by all present and allowed the meeting of some old friends and the making of new ones as well. After dinner we had  a warm welcome from the Sligo Field Club Chairman, Martin Wilson, who then  gave a most interesting and informative after dinner talk about Sligo Field Club and its activities.  Dick Ryan, Federation of Local History Societies, who had been responsible for organising the event, responded on behalf of the Federation and thanked the Sligo Field Club for their very warm welcome and for all the work they had done in making the weekend possible. We then retired for a quiet chat , a little libation and finally off to a well-earned rest.

Click photos to enlarge.


The AGM was formally conducted in the morning after delegates had registered. Martina Griffin chaired the meeting and there were reports from the Secretary and the Treasurer. Michael Gaynor, Chairperson 2017 had resigned and Martina Griffin stepped down as Vice Chair. Padraig Laffan was elected Chairperson, Michael Mullally Vice Chairperson, Betty Quinn Secretary, Mairead Byrne Treasurer and Larry Breen PRO/Editor. Larry Breen was also appointed Data Protection Officer.  Committee members elected were , Josephine Byrne, Kay Lonergan, Mary Walsh, Eamon Leonard, Eugene Jordan, Jimmy Dockery, Frank Taaffe, Dick Ryan, Mary Kenehan. Three co-options were appointed after the meeting by the new committee, namely Maire Mc Carthy, Martina Griffin and JJ Woods. A draft revision of the constitution was accepted by the meeting. The Society Spake went well and thanks to Padraig Laffan for all his input. It was agreed that further work was required on the whole subject of the new Data Protection Laws. Thanks to Pictorium Photo Shop, Monkstown, Dublin for kindly providing a free voucher for all delegates.

After lunch the group travelled by coach to visit Carrowmore and Lissadell House. First port of call was the Cúil Irra peninsula to see the passage tombs of Carrowmore resplendent in the afternoon sunshine. What a beautiful sight these undulating lowlands on the Atlantic Coast were, lying between the rugged hills of the Ox mountains to the South and the imposing Dartry Mountains with Ben Bulben to the North. We were met by a wonderful guide who took us on a memorable journey around many of the thirty passage tombs on the site. The Carrowmore cluster is unique in Irish Passage Tomb tradition owing to the sites uniform and simple construction, consisting of a circle of large boulders set shoulder to shoulder enclosing a central free standing chamber. Standing in the centre of the Carrowmore site and taking in the three hundred and sixty degree panoramic  view was a very special experience.

Our second stop of the day was at Lissadell House where we met with our guide from the Sligo Field Club, Leo Leydon. Leo proved to be a real Hidden Gem, and his personal experiences through his family connections, father and grandfather at Lissadell were the highlight of the visit. He took us back in time with a captivating historical tour of the house and the family history with many personal anecdotes thrown in. He left no stone unturned in a fascinating trip through every corner of the house.  Home of the Gore-Booth family it was set in a wild dramatic natural setting surrounded by mountain, sea and woodlands. Built in 1830 and designed by Francis Goodwin it was the childhood home of Constance and Eva Gore-Booth.  Constance , later Countess Markievicz, became an iconic figure in the Easter Rising of 1916. It is important that the house and its history are being preserved for posterity. The house is currently owned by the Cassidy Family who are doing a great job in keeping the story alive.

We all had dinner in the evening at the Radisson Blu Hotel and were treated afterwards to two excellent after dinner talks by members of the Sligo Field Club. Leo Leydon talked about the archaeology of Sligo and this was followed by Nicholas Prins who made a presentation on the Big Houses of Sligo. And so ended another day with some wonderful memories.


We travelled on Sunday morning to Sligo Town for two more guided tours. We were given a most interesting and informative guided walking tour of the town centre by our guide whose enthusiasm and love of the subject made it all the more enjoyable. We started the tour at the impressive Romanesque Palazzo Style Town Hall and travelled around many interesting streets with our guide pointing out the most interesting buildings including the Yeats Memorial Building, which features prominently in the culture and artistic life of the town. We then walked to Sligo’s Old Gaol where we were met by some members of the “Friends of Sligo Gaol”. Although closed in 1956 the building still presents an imposing spectacle. We were guided through the building with some expert commentary  by a lady from the friends of Sligo Gaol Group who have to be commended for the work they are doing in keeping  this important part of Sligo Town’s history alive and available. It was fascinating to go back in time through the old cells and to hear stories of public hangings. The Warden’s Residence still stands in all its glory inside the prison walls. Some notable prisoners who spent some time in the prison  were  Michael Collins, Michael Davitt and the boxer Jack Doyle.

Thanks to Sligo Field Club, particularly Wendy Lyons, Martin Wilson, Leo Leydon, Nichalos Prins and all other members of the Club who were involved in making it such a successful and enjoyable weekend for all concerned.