The following is a list, of the raids, burnings, sieges and plagues in Sligo town that are recorded in the annals.
The ruined Dominican friary on Abbey street in Sligo is the only medieval building left standing in the town, it is a lonely testament to the towns remarkably unstable history.
The Normans failure to conquer Ireland meant that, far from providing security, Sligo became completely destabilized.
Warfare for control of Sligo castle became constant from the building of the first castle in 1245 until the final destruction of whatever was still standing in 1691.
In 1691 Sligo castle was described by a Williamite soldier asked to defend it as a "crazie castle".
No doubt by that stage it was.
|# 1 1227 AD: The Normans raid Connacht|
Annals of Loch Cé
"A depredation was committed in Sligech by the Justiciary, and by Brian, son of Turlough when they took many women prisoners."
Here the spearhead of the Norman war machine reached the northwest coast
The Normans took advantage of political divisions already in existence. Sligo was on the frontier between the ancient provinces of Ulster and Connacht.
It was also accessible by sea, and a sheltered port, which was vital to Norman military tactics as they, descendants of Vikings, relied on amphibious operations to supply and reinforce.
Brought their extensive merchant contacts with England, France and Spain.the wine trade.
Incidentally, this is before the traditional founding of the town in 1245 and shows there was an Irish settlement here already.
# 2 1236 AD The Norman invasion of Connacht
The King of Connacht Flees
"The Foreigners of Erinn pursued Felirn to Roscommon, and pursued him from thence to the bridge of Sligech ; and as they did not overtake him they committed great depredations on Tadhg O'Conor; and they then seized a great number of noble women, whom they carried away with them in captivity."
This was a scouting raid and after this the Normans targeted the site of Sligo town as the most desirable location for their main castle.
# 3 1245 AD Fitzgeralds Trick
"The castle of Sligo was built by Mac Muiris FitzGerald, Justiciar of Ireland, and by the Sil Murray. For Fedlim O Conchobair was bidden to build it at his own cost and to take the stones and lime of the spital house of the Trinity for the building, though the Justiciar had previously given that site to Clarus Mag Mailin in honour of the Holy Trinity." Annals of Connacht
After the arrival of the justiciar (representative) of the King of England, Maurice Fitzgerald land was granted to a clergyman Clarus MacMailenn of Lough Cé intended for the construction of a hospital.
The building materials were gathered but the order was then switched to a castle Fitzgerald, who had the upper hand, ordered the building of a castle to secure the position.
# 4 1246 AD Fitzgerald invades Tir Conaill
"Muiris Mac Gerailt (Maurice Fitzgerald) made a great raid into Tir Conaill and gave half of it to Cormac son of Diarmait son of Ruaidri [O Conchobair]. He took hostages of O Domnaill for the other half and left them in the castle of Sligo.
# 5 1246 AD O'Donnell strikes back
O Domnaill came on the first day of November with the chief men of Tir Conaill to Sligo and they burned the bawn of the town but could not prevail against the castle. The garrison hanged their hostages on the roof before their eyes—O Mianain the foster-father of O Domnaill and his [O Domnaill's] foster-brother."
Gofraidh O Domnaill, King of Tir Conaill, retaliates and raids the town and burns the bawn (a small defensive enclosure protecting the houses). He fails to capture the castle.
|# 6 1247 The Connachta Counter Attack|
"Great war was made by Toirrdelbach (son of Aedh Ua Conchubhair) and by the sons of the kings of Connacht (against the Foreigners this year) and many towns were burned and many Foreigners slain by them."
The mountains were never to be controlled by the Normans, and so what was built to provide a secure base, became instead the focus of continual instability and turmoil. For this reason Sligo is a town with an extremely turbulent history.
Though the Normans built a castle in 1245, they lost control of it soon after.
# 7 1253 AD "Copious fruits on trees this year."
A monastery was built and a cemetery consecrated for the Preaching-friars in Sligo.
This is the founding of the Abbey on Abbey street, Sligo town.
The Preaching-friars marked out the site of another monastery at Ath Lethan in Luighne.
This was a year of peace and plenty, as
The peace was not to last.
|# 8 1257 The Battle of Credran Colmcille|
"The Castle of Narrow-Water was levelled by Geoffrey O'Domnaill and he and the Cenel-Conaill came therefrom on the morrow, to attack Sligech. And he met with the Foreigners of the town and inflicted defeat upon them at Credran-cille, in Ros cheidi (Rosses Point) in the country of Cairpre (Carbury).
And O'Domnaill was wounded there and had his wounds not taken hold of him, there would have been defeat inflicted upon them to the river Muaidh (Moy).
And Sligech was burned by them and pillaged. (And Mac Grifin, namely, a good knight, was taken prisoner there.)"
"Maurice Fitz Gerald, Justiciary of Ireland for a time, dissolver of the Gaidhil and of the churches of Ireland, died."
This was a decisive battle, for though the Normans tried to regain control of the area it was never to be securely theirs again. From now on the tide turns.
In this battle, known as Credran Colmcille Goffraidh O Donnell halted the Norman advance into the northwest. Both Fitzgerald and O Donnell were mortally wounded at this battle, dying later of their wounds. This partial
So the Normans were destined to control the town only for very brief periods, situated between the powerful kings of Connacht and Ulster and remote from the Normans main power base in the east and south.
|# 9 1263 The King of Connacht Dies|
"Feidhlimidh Ua Conchobuir, arch-king of Connacht, the Gaidhel of most goodness that was in Ireland in his own period, died."
upon taking up the Kingship an Irish warrior traditionally raided his enemie, so sure enough,
"The castle of Sligech was levelled by Aedh, son of Feidhlimidh and by Domnall Ua Domnaill."
|# 10 1265 AD Town was raided|
|# 11 1267 AD Castle built for second time|
The castle of Sligeach was built by Fitz Maurice*. (Again)
*son of Maurice (Fitzgerald)
|# 12 1269 AD Castle Destroyed|
The castle of Ros-comain and the castle of Sligeach and the castle of Ath-liag were levelled by Aedh, son of Feidhlimidh Ua Conchobair.
|# 13 1271 AD Castle captured by Aedh O Conchobhar|
Aedh, King of Connacht. captures the castle.
|# 14 1283 AD Castle described as broken down.|
|# 15 1289 AD Castle built for third time|
"The castle of Sligech was built by John Fitz Thomas and he went across to the house of the king of the Saxons."
|# 16 1290 AD A Fight in the Town|
Mael Sechlainn Ua Flannagain, chief of Clann-Cathail, was killed by Cathal, son of Tadhg Mac Diarmata, on the street of Sligech.
The town is described as a sraidbhaile a "street town" the Irish description of English style settlements.
then the castle was destroyed in the traditional manner
"The castle of Sligech was levelled by Aedh, son of Eogan Ua Conchobuir."
|# 17 1306AD Castle built for fourth time|
The Castle of Sligech was built by Richard de Burgh the Red Earl of Ulster.
The Normans did not give up easily
There is some confusion over when exactly this castle was built.
|# 18 1315 AD Castle Captured|
Castle captured and town burnt by Aedh O Domnaill during the Scottish Bruce invasion
|# 19 1357 AD Town Burnt|
"Great burnings happened at the same time, namely, those of the town of Ros-Comain and Daim-inis and Sligech and the Monastery of Lis-gabail and Fighnach and Druim-lias."
|# 20 1360 AD Town Burnt|
The town is reported burnt after the arrival of King of Englands son. No particular reason is given.
# 21 1362 Plague
Plague strikes the town.
This plague may incidentally be evidence for trade ships which are the most likely source of plague at this time.
town dwellers were particularly vulnerable to epidemics
|# 22 1385 AD Town Burnt|
Tireragh was burned by Macwilliam Burke. He went thence to Sligo and burned the town and the near part of Carbury. Maidecc Mael was killed in his following and hostages were taken in respect of his eric.
# 23 1395 AD
The Lord of Sligo Dies in the Castle
"Domnall, son of Muircertach Ua Concobuir, namely, lord of Sligech and of all the West of Connacht, died this year in the castle of Sligech, that is, a week before the Nativity, after victory of Unction and penance."
The entire Sligo area is now firmly under the control of the Gaelic aristocracy. However that did not mean an end to the problems
|# 24 1396 AD Town Burnt|
"The town was burnt by O Domnaill, which was a pity buildings both of stone and wood were magnificent."
ODonnell claimed suzerainty over the Sligo area, but so did the Burkes of Mayo. Both fancied themselves as Ri Ruirech (Kings of Kings). In the absence of a strong king of Connacht
|# 25 1398 AD Town Burnt|
A great attack was made by Macwilliam Burke and the sons of Cathal Oc [O Conchobair] on Sligo.
They burnt and completely sacked the town.
Donough, the son of Murtough O'Conor, died of a fall in the doorway, of the castle of Sligo.
#27 1422 AD
#28 1423 AD
|#29 1445 AD Town Burnt|
"A great host was led to Sligech by Ua Domnaill and by Philip Mag Uidhir and by the sons of Aedh ag Uidhir along with the sons of Eogan Ua Concobuir. Sligech was burned by them on that occasion upon Toirdelbach Carrach Ua Concobuir, namely, son of Domnall, son of Muircertach Ua Concobuir. "
# 30 1471AD Siege and Castle Damaged
"A great hosting was made this year by Mac William de Burgh into the Lower northern part of Connacht, to aid the son of Brian Ua Conchobuir and they went against the castle of Sligech and the sons of Eogan Ua Conchobuir were gone to join Ua Domnaill, but Domnall, son of Eogan, went into the castle. And the fortification of the door was broken down by Mac William and then peace was made by them."
# 31 1478 AD
#32 1485 AD Siege
#33 1512 AD
#34 1513 AD
|# 35 1516 Town Bombarded|
Town captured by O' Donnell in three days by the use of a French ships guns
Needless to the say the town was wrecked again.
# 36 1522
Elizabethan English justiciar the Earl of Sussex arrives in Sligo.
From now on the wars have an increasingly religious character and Sligo is a target for all sides.
# 39 1566
Sir Henry Sidney gives a description of the castle and town
# 40 1574 Town Burnt
Town destroyed by the Burkes of Mayo
# 41 1577 Merchants ask for a wall !
| # 42 1582 AD Town Sacked and Burned |
Town burnt by Scots Galloglass troops arriving for the wars with the English crown
|# 43 1595 AD Siege|
Castle is Recaptured by O Domnaill after the assassination of George Bingham his brother promptly besieges the castle, unsuccessfully.
|# 44 1602 Town Burnt |
Burnt by Domnaill O'Connor
|# 45 1641 AD Town Besieged, Captured and Stormed|
The town was captured by the McDonaghs during the Irish revolt. Protestant settlers were moved to the jail for their safety but during the night a drunken mob broke in and killed some of them.
the religious zealot Sir Frederick Hamilton attempts to storm the town and burns the abbey killing some of
|# 46 1645 Town Captured|
The town was captured by Charles Coote with the Parliamentary army.
A garrison of Confederate (Catholic) soldiers in O'Creans tower house that surrendered was executed.
# 47 1652
Town reported to be totally ruined with nothing left but bare walls and cabins
# 48 1690
Town was captured by the famous soldier Patrick Sarsfield during the Jacobite war,
# 49 1693 Town Destroyed
Town in ruins again
"most of the houses broken down and not habitable the customs house, excise office and all public buildings were destroyed."
The modern town was founded jointly by Fitzgerald and the Siol Muireadadh in the person of the King of Connacht Felim O'Connor. when building materials had been gathered, Fitzgeralds sudden order the construction of a castle instead of a hospital under the clergyman Clarus of Lough Ce, hoping to create a base for the conquest of the area, as we see in what happens next.Maurice seems to have tricked his way into getting a castle built on his chosen point
Muiris Mac Gerailt led out a great army of Galls, first to Sligo and thence to Assaroe, which they reached on the Wednesday after the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, and where Cormac son of Diarmait son of Ruaidri O Conchobair joined himself to Mac Gerailt's followers. O Domnaill mustered the Cenel Conaill and Cenel Eogain to oppose them at Ballyshannon and for a week exactly they did not let Gall or Gael pass the ford. So the invaders took counsel and sent Cormac O Conchobair with a large force of horsemen westwards along the plain and then southwards to the edge of the Mointech. From here he skirted the Mointech eastwards till he reached Ballycooloon on the Erne, and the Cenel Conaill perceived nothing of them till they saw them approaching on their own side of the river. But when the Galls saw the attention of the Cenel Conaill diverted from themselves to the horsemen who were taking them in their rear, they charged across the ford, so that the Cenel Conaill were between the two parties. And this is not all, for Maelsechlainn O Domnaill, king of Cenel Conaill, was killed there, and Gilla Muinelach O Baigill and Mac Somurli, king of Argyle, and all the chief men of Cenel Conaill. Many men of Mac Gerailt's army were drowned in crossing the Find northwards; many also were killed at Termon Magrath in the pursuit after the preys, including William Brit the Sheriff of Connacht and his brother, a young famous knight. But after that they pillaged and plundered the whole territory and departed, leaving Ruaidri O Canannain behind as king of Cenel Conaill for the nonce.
A Continental style monastery of Dominican friars, a mendicant (poor) order known as the Whitefriars, was founded in about and its ruins stand now in Abbey St.
The town continued to function and even expand (slightly) throughout this time. The wars attracted merchants, who often made money selling arms and equipment to all sides.
The River of Sligo
The English word "Sligo" is a corruption of the Irish word Sligeach, meaning shells, or place of shells. The name referred originally to the river and its estuary, now known as the Garavogue (from Garbh Og, little rough river).
The Sligeach is first mentioned in the Dindsenchus, a collection of ancient poems concerning the Lore of Places, over 1,300 years old, as one of the nine sacred rivers of Ireland, being counted among the nine rivers which Partholon, the leader of the first inhabitants of Ireland after the flood, is said to have found on his arrival in the island.