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Market Street/Market Cross in Sligo town before the Lady Erin statue was erected.

The Great Liberator’s visit to Sligo

On the 24th January 1837, Daniel O’Connell, visited Sligo with much fanfare. The road from Ballina to Sligo was crowded with thousands of people who had travelled for miles to catch a glimpse.

At 3pm the Sligo Trades (Coopers, Butchers, Shoemakers, Carpenters, Plasterers, Tailors, Slaters and Masons, Broguemakers, Nailors, Carmen, Porters, Bakers and Sawyers) went in a procession through the town with their banners and a band. The road from Ballisodare was impassable in parts from the crowds gathered. There was an estimated 30,000 people gathered to hear him speak in the town.

The former Pound Street sligo
Connolly Street previously known as Pound Street

At half six, the band of the Trades were heard at the upper end of Pound Street playing the tune of the “See the conquering hero comes”, (Handel). Immediately if by magic, the windows of the several houses on Market Street were lit up, lights were held out the windows by many individuals in their anxiety to catch a glimpse for the first time of the Ireland’s Liberator.

Market Cross Sligo
Market Street/Market Cross in Sligo town before the Lady Erin statue was erected.
Daniel O'Connell
Daniel O'Connell

The crowds were assembled in Market Street, particularly in front of the house of the Messrs. Madden where Mr O’Connell was to alight, from three o’clock in the day where they remained patiently and quietly until his arrival which did not take place until seven o’clock at that hour his carriage was seen slowly to approach the door.

O’Connell apologised profusely for his late arrival and gave a speech at the window of Maddens house before retiring for dinner at rooms in Boyles with 300 people in attendance. Martin Madden was Mayor of Sligo several times, his house and business a distillery was based on Ratcliffe Street (Grattan Street).


Sligo Champion, 28 January 1837

National Library of Ireland – Lawrence Collection

Sligo Library