This section deals mainly with the built environment of Calry and covers, antiquities, archaeological and historical sites, listed buildings, public buildings such as churches, meeting places, hostelries and shops.
Pre-history archaeology and antiquities (including Deerpark site)
The website www.discoversligo.com gives a concise summary of Sligo’s pre-historic archaeology:
The earliest signs of human settlement in County Sligo date to the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age – c.7000-4000 BC). The presence of these early hunter-gatherer communities who exploited the rivers, lakes, marine and other natural resources around them is indicated by archaeological finds from Lough Gara near Monasteraden, and from investigations at Carrowmore.
There is much evidence of Neolithic (Late Stone Age – c.4000-2500 BC) activity in County Sligo due to the extremely high number of megalithic monuments. The area of County Sligo is only 2.5% of the total area of Ireland, yet c.220 megalithic monuments are found here – 15% of Ireland’s total number (c.1450). Different types of megalithic monuments can be encountered in the county and according to their construction, and to a certain extent to the finds made, these monuments have been categorised into four main types: court tomb, portal tomb, passage tombs and wedge tombs. Towards the end of the Neolithic period henge monuments or earthen embanked enclosures were constructed for ritual and ceremonial purposes and continued into the succeeding Bronze Age (c2300- 700BC).
Court tombs is characterised by a trapezoidal ground plan ending in an open U-shaped court or gallery which was thought to be used for ceremonial purposes and which leads to between 2 and 4 chambers. Irish Court tombs point in various directions but not NW-S. Generally considered to be the earliest type of tomb. These are only known from the northern half of Ireland where there are 390 of them, and the western Scotland. These are particularly common in the Sligo region there being 70-80 so far recorded with famous examples being Creevykeel, Deerpark and Moytirra.
The website http://www.thejournal.ie/deerpark-st-audeons-neil-jackman-1679028-Sep2014/ also describes the richness of Sligo’s pre-historic legacy:
Sligo has an incredible landscape of prehistoric monuments, and it is one of the best places to encounter evidence of our Neolithic past. Set high in the hills with expansive views over Lough Colgagh and the surrounding landscape you can discover an ancient court tomb at Deerpark (also known as Magheranrush).
Court tombs are thought to be the earliest type of megalithic tomb to have been built in Ireland. As their name implies, they usually feature a large courtyard area that was usually in front of a covered gallery that contained the human remains, often in two or more chambers.
The galleries or chambers were usually covered with a large cairn of small stones – though often, as with this example at Deerpark, the cairn has long since been removed. Deerpark is also very unusual amongst Irish court tombs, as the court is in the centre of the monument, rather than being positioned at the front.
It is thought that the open court was where ceremonies were conducted. With the passage of over 5,000 years, we can only speculate at the type of rituals that accompanied burials in sites like this one. Generally speaking, cremation was the dominant burial practice of the Irish Neolithic, though unburned remains have been discovered at other court tombs around the country.
Quite often the burials would be accompanied by pottery vessels, and stone tools like polished stone axeheads, flint arrowheads, scrapers or blades. In some cases the artefacts have been found to have been burned, perhaps suggesting that these were prized possessions of the deceased, and that they were also placed on the funeral pyre.
Deerpark Court Tomb
This large and imposing monument is considered by many to be the finest example of a central court tomb in Ireland. It occupies a magnificent position on top of a limestone ridge overlooking Lough Gill and is surrounded by a panorama of mountain scenery. However, a forest plantation has obscured the views.
It is built with rough, fissured limestone slabs, few of which exceed lm in height. It consists of an oval shaped court, 15m in length, with a pair of twin galleries at the east end and a single gallery opposite these at the west end, which give a total length of 30m. An entrance passage links the court to the edge of the remaining kerb stones and is located on the south side of the monument. Each gallery is divided by jambs into two chambers. Large lintel stones spanned the entrances to the three galleries but two of these fell in the 1920s and lie next to the entrances they once covered. The existing lintel is split in two and in danger of falling. Exploratory excavations took place in the 19th century and these uncovered human and animal bones, mainly those of deer.
On the other side of the forest wall and 600m south of the central court tomb is a wedge tomb in poor condition but a considerable structure remains (G7517/33630). Northeast of this is a good example of a stone fort or cashel. It consists of walled enclosure with an interior diameter of 23m and an impressive entrance on the south side. The walls of the cashel were robbed of stone in the past to build the walls of the Deerpark. In the centre of the site are the remains of a souterrain dug down 1m into bedrock.
In Ireland, over 40,000 sites have been identified as ringforts and it is thought that at least 50,000 ringforts existed on the island. They are common throughout the country, with a mean density of just over one ring fort within any area of 2 km². It is likely that many have been destroyed by farming and urbanisation. Different theories exist on the age and purpose of ringforts. Traditional folklore suggests that they were ancient burial places and therefore should not be disturbed.
Our current understanding of these structures is that they date to the Early Medieval Period, with a peak in construction between AD 600 and AD 900. They represent the enclosed homesteads (farmhouses if you like) of the upper echelons of Irish Early Medieval society. While the term ‘ringfort’ dominates, other terms are also used such as rath, lios, caiseal and dun – rath and lios are normally used to describe monuments with earthen banks while caiseal (cashel) and dun are more generally used in relation to sites with stone-built enclosures. These names are often fossilised in placenames throughout Ireland today, for example Rathmines in Co. Dublin (the Fort of Maonas) and Lisburn in Co. Antrim (the Fort of the gamblers). The decision on whether they were constructed of earth or stone was often influenced by the local landscape and the most readily available material.
More information is available on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringfort
Calry has its ample share of ring forts. They are cleared marked in the first Ordnance Survey of Ireland maps published from the survey carried out during the period 1829-1842.
Old churches and burial sites
The following is extracted from Extract from “The Diocese of Elphin: People, Places and Pilgrimage” :
At Deerpark stand the remains of a court tomb, one of the best examples of its type in the country, dating from about 2000 BC. A religious site is reputed to have been sited on the same hill, a nunnery called Enach Ard, founded by the female saints, Osnat, Muadhnata and Talulla, all sisters of St Molaise of Inishmurray. In later years their successors moved the foundation downhill to Clogher, at a place called Teampall a Chlochaire, on the shores of Lough Colga, in the modern burial ground of Cloghermore. St Connell’s Well lies on the lakeshore in the townland of Clogher Beg.
An annual pilgrimage to a Mass Rock site, on the side of Edenbaun Mountain, has been revived in recent years. Among the names of Elphin diocesan priests listed during the penal days by Edmund Teige, vicar general of Clonmacnoise in 1668, were: Malachy Conry, Prebendary of Calry and Drumcliffe and Roger Harte, Perpetual Vicar of Ahamlish and Calry. By 1704 Calry parish was united with Sligo (St John’s) parish, under Fr Denis Kerrigan as parish priest. He was ordained in 1685 by Bishop Dominic Burke of Elphin at Caltra in county Galway. In March 1744, at an enquiry at Sligo, Gilbert King, High Sherriff, recorded that “Thomas Brennan, Frier at Cloghermore in the union of Sligoe did exercise Popish ecclesiastical jurisdiction in this county.’ It is possible that this friar was attending the old church which stood at Churchfield or Chapelfield, to the right of the road leading down to Clogher cemetery. This church, possibly a Mass House, was probably in use up until the building of St. Patrick’s Church, Calry in the very early nineteenth century. St Patrick’s was renovated in the 1940s, and again in the 1990s. The sanctuary has been beautifully re-designed, with the installation of a reredos to incorporate the tabernacle, and which forms a fitting backdrop to the altar.
Clogher seems to have been used as a burial ground for several centuries
and the ruins of an old church are still there in the cemetery. The cemetery also has a number of yew trees. The practice of growing yew trees in cemeteries dates back to Henry VIII, who issued a decree to the effect that yew trees were to be planted in all cemeteries in England and Ireland.
At that time yew was used for archers’ bows and a plentiful supply was needed at all times to support English armies in various conflicts. However, the yews were being cut down for firewood and other purposes by the general populace leading to a shortage of yew to make bows. As no God-fearing person would dare cut down a tree in a cemetery, it was ordered that yews be grown in cemeteries to maintain an adequate supply, and to be cut by the army as and when needed.
O’Rorke describes the run-down state of Clogher graveyard circa late1890s as follows:
At the base of the hill is the site of the old religious establishment of Clogher, now and from time immemorial, used as a burying place. The graveyard being neatly walled, and lined in part with trees, looks well from a distance, but a near view shows the interior overrun with weeds, which cover and conceal the tombs, and give the place a neglected and disordered look. Some remains of an oblong building that ran from east to west, and measured 52 feet long and 21 wide, interior measurement, are still in their place, though the eastern gable and south side wall are levelled to the ground, while only about 12 feet high of the west gable and north sidewall continue standing.
Michael A Hargadon immortalized the graveyard in his poem entitled The Country Churchyard
“By Colgagh lake there is a shady spot,
A rood or so, a little walled-in lot;
All folk are sad to enter that abode;
Yet there, the weary leave aside their load;”
An extension to Clogher cemetery was opened in 2003 and the land was kindly donated by relatives of the late Tom Fox of Kiltycahill.
St Connell’s Well (The Wishing Well)
Wishing wells and holy wells are common throughout Ireland and many are associated with saints. These wells are known for the pristine quality of their water and many of them are places of pilgrimage such as Tobernalt in Cleveragh, Sligo.
St Connell’s Well – the “Wishing Well” lies on the lakeshore in Clogher Beg townland. It is referenced by O’Rorke as follows:
“.. the secluded wells of Tubberconnell, and of Tubbernailt, with their rude altars.. “
St Connell’s Island in Lough Gill is visible from the well and is a very small island, presumably associated with or occupied by the saint at some point in time.
St Patrick’s Church, Colgagh
St Patrick’s Church (RC) is located in the townland of Colgagh exactly three miles from Sligo town. It was built in the early nineteenth century, renovated in the 1940s, and again in the 1990s.
Calry Church (Anglican), The Mall
O’Rorke in covering the history of St John’s Church, Sligo remarks:
We learn, from various advertisements and news paragraphs, which appeared in the Sligo Journal, in the year 1819, that St. John’s Church was then too small to contain the number of Church Protestants in the benefice. To supply the accommodation wanted, the church of Calry was built in 1823; and its first incumbent was Reverend James Armstrong, who was succeeded by Rev. Messrs. Todd, Shone (the present bishop), Dowden, Heany, and Berry, the actual incumbent.
Calry Church on the Mall was built in 1823, to serve the substantial Anglican population on the north side of Sligo. The tall graceful spire has been a prominent Sligo landmark ever since the Church opened in 1824.
The following is extracted from www.sligotown.net
Proposals to build a chapel for the growing protestant population were first put forward in March 1817, and the construction of The Calry Church and a Glebe House was carried out by the local building contractor John Lynn.
The Calry Church was constructed to a plain Gothic style with a tower and a lovely spire commands a demanding position on a height overlooking the flowing waters of the nearby Garavogue River.
The stones used in the construction of the church was quarried on the spot, which would explain the somewhat low cost of £5,246.15s for the building works, of which £823.00 was raised by subscription and by the sale of pews.
After the church was consecrated in June 1824, its first Curate was the Rev William Armstrong, who ministered until his death in March 1840 at the age of 46.
There are a number of vaults beneath the church which had remained virtually unused since the construction in 1824, until renovation works were carried out in recent years, when the vaults were finally put to use.
Presbyterian Church, Stephen St.
The Presbyterian Church on Stephen St. (now the County Library) was designed and built by architects Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon in 1851.
This small Gothic Revival Church was converted in 1954 into the Sligo Town Library.
The Manse, situated beside the Library, was built in 1867, and was converted into the Sligo County Museum in 1955.
Old Houses and listed buildings
The Calry area has a number of old houses dating back as far as the eighteenth century (some of which are listed buildings) and all, bar one, are intact and in use. The following list is extracted from the Landed Estates website, a searchable, online database of all Landed Estates in Connacht and Munster, maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway (UCG). The database provides a comprehensive and integrated resource guide to landed estates and historic houses in Connacht and Munster, c. 1700-1914.
|House||Link to Landed Estates Database|
|Ardaghowen House||Click here|
|Ballyglass House||Click here|
|Barroe House||Not Available|
|Clogherevagh House||Click here|
|Colgagh House||Click here|
|Colgagh Cottage||Not Available|
|Doonally House||Click here|
|Edenbawn House||Not Available (Birthplace of Peter O’Connor)|
|Faughts Cottage||Click here|
|Hazelwood House||Click here|
|Holywell House||Click here|
|Mount Shannon House||Click here|
|Rathbraghan House||Not Available|
|Rosslare House||Not Available|
|Willowbrook House||Click here|
The Ulster Bank (co-ordinates 54.27250 -8.47400) is a fine detached five-bay two-storey sandstone ashlar classically-styled bank, was designed by James Hamilton architects of Belfast and Glasgow and was built in 1863.
One of the more notable features of this building, which occupies its commanding position at this busy junction in Stephen Street is its rich ashlar Scottish sandstone.
The appearance of the building is enlivened by the high quality stone masonry which has decorative artistic detailing. The bank is significant, attesting to the prosperity of Sligo town in the late nineteenth century.
the Ulster Bank building was ‘bombed to ruins’ during the Irish Civil War but was rebuilt soon after.
In front of the Ulster Bank stands Sligo‘s most popular, and most photographed tourist attraction. A statue depicting the world-renowned poet William Butler Yeats ‘wrapt in his words’.
This much-loved statue, built by artist Rowan Gillespie was erected in this “most obvious place” in 1989, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of William Butler Yeats by the people of Sligo Town.
When receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature from the King of Sweden in 1924, William Butler Yeats commented that the Stockholm Royal Palace reminded him of the Ulster Bank in Sligo Town.
The Model, home of The Niland Collection, is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centres. Built in 1862 as a Model School, the present building has been extended twice. The first extension was in 2000 when it was completely refurbished and extended by McCullough Mulvin Architects. The building was redeveloped again by architects Sheridan Woods in 2010, whose extension to The Model has increased the building by a third in size to create a world-class visitor centre. The building boasts a restaurant and coffee dock, a bookshop, a wonderful gallery circuit, a purpose built performance space, and a suite of impressive artist studios on the top floor with enviable views of Sligo town and County.
More information here: www.themodel.ie
The Freemasons Society, which originated in the medieval craft guilds of the stone masons, built their first Lodge (No 355) in County Sligo in December 1760, though it was not until 1856 that a purpose built meeting place, or lodge, was proposed in Sligo Town.
39 years later in 1895, after countless fund-raising events and bazaars, The Masonic Lodge (co-ordinates 54.27260 -8.46765) was built at the cost of £1,525 on The Mall in Sligo Town.
The Masonic Lodge was designed by the architect Mr Henry Seaver from Belfast and was built by Sligoman Mr George Kerr, described as being the Old English style, with the outer walls being faced with red perforated bricks, the upper storey being roughcast and the roofing being of green slates (the green slates are no longer on the building).
There is a lovely tower with bell shaped eaves rising over the main entrance to the building, which consisted internally of the principal lodge room (40ft X 20ft) a dining hall (40ft X 20ft) and a number of smaller rooms which were used for craft purposes, joined onto the two large rooms.
Successive members of the Dodd family lived in The Masonic Lodge as caretakers from the opening of the building in 1895 until 1951.
St Columba’s Hospital (now Clayton Hotel)
The following is extracted from www.sligotown.net
Construction of this exceedingly beautiful, Elizabethan style building commenced on November 7th 1847, with the first sod believed to have been turned by the buildings architect William Deane Butler.
St Columba’s, (co-ordinates 54.28100 -8.45920) being such a large building, took over six years to complete, officially opening its doors in 1855 at a cost of £53,199 and was described by Sir John Forbes in his journal as “one of the finest public charities I have ever seen”.
The opening of St Columba’s Hospital meant that psychiatric patients from counties Sligo and Leitrim no longer had to travel to Ballinasloe ‘to be confined’
The mental hospital introduced radical new treatment methods in 1883, by abolishing patient restraints where possible, and demolished some of the hospital walls, allowing the patients to roam freely through the grounds, giving the patients who were usually confined, locked-up or even bound to feel free.
Saint Columba’s Hospital, kept up to 1,100 patients, and was amongst the most popular places to work during the early to mid 1900’s in Sligo, according to Gerry Lyons who spent 43 years working in the hospital, and “although many days were happy enough, there were also days so sad”.
“Some patients were never visited, some stayed there for over 40 years, others died there, some committed suicide, but thankfully they were few.”
Following years of declining patient numbers and worsening conditions, St Columbas Hospital finally closed its doors in 1992, where it lay derelict and in dire need of repair for 10 years, after which time it was purchased by The Clarion Hotel, a member of the Choice Hotels of Europe group, who have completely rebuilt the building. In fact all that remains of the original structure is the building’s façade and an interior wall.
The Clarion Hotel, which opened on April 22nd 2005 at a cost 45 million Euro, has 167 bedrooms, a 20-metre swimming pool, sauna and treatment rooms, a 60-piece gym and a conference / banqueting hall which can cater for up to 400 guests.
The original church and chapel which stand outside, have also been renovated and the hotel hope to use the chapel to host banquets, unique events and occasionally for wedding ceremonies.
The Clarion Hotel was put into receivership by KBC Bank and the AIB Bank in 2012, subsequently being bought by the Dalata Group , Ireland’s largest hotel group, for 11 million, though it remains to be seen whether the road running parallel to the hotel frontage, Clarion Road, will retain its name. The Clayton group has now bought the Clarion.
Birthplace of Spike Milligan’s father
Holborn Street, is one of Sligo‘s oldest streets, where we can see on Number 5 (on the right hand side of the road) a plaque remembering another very different famous figure, this house has very strong connections with the formative years of the world famous comedian Spike Milligan. Although Spike was born in India, his father was lived in Sligo and was attached to the British army then billeted in Barrack St.