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Sligo Jail or Sligo Prison, ( ) founded as Sligo Gaol is a former prison located in Sligomarker, County Sligomarker, Irelandmarker which was open from 1823 to 1959.


The jail sits on an site and was designed to hold 200 inmates in a polygon-shaped building, with the Governor's residence situated in the centre of the prison. Construction of the jail began in 1818 and it was opened in 1823 at a cost of £30,000.

The jail provided its own hospital wing, surgery, dispensary, cookhouse, furnace, clothing store and school.

General history

Gas was introduced to the jail in 1879. This allowed the provision of heating via hot water pipes and earned it the nickname of the Cranmore Hotel.

Male inmates in the prison were forced to undertake "hard labour". This labour included the picking of oakum, rock breaking and wood chopping. Other forms of male labour included shoemaking, tailoring, carpentry, glazing, and painting, whilst female inmates were employed to sew, knit and wash clothes.

During the 20th century the jail was self-sufficient and produced its own food, the surplus of which was sold outside the prison at stalls in Sligo.

Notable events

The final public hanging at Sligo jail occurred on 19 August 1861 when 26 year old Ballymotemarker native Mathew Phibbs, also known as the "Ash Lane Murderer", was hung for murdering William and Fanny Callaghan and a servant girl Anne Mooney in January of the same year. The last person to be hanged within the prison was a Mr. Doherty of Carrick-on-Shannonmarker, County Leitrimmarker in 1903 who was convicted of murdering his son.

On 26 June 1920, a party of approximately 100 volunteers from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) undertook a raid on Sligo jail with the aim of liberating Frank Carty, the OC of the South Sligo Brigade of the IRA and the newly-elected Sinn Féin council of Sligomarker Town Council.

The IRA members forced open the main gate of the jail and the inner doors. They then forced the nightwatchman to turn over the keys to the cells and they released Carty who was taken away in a waiting motor car.

Throughout the period of the Second World War a number of German spies were held in Sligo jail. In September 1946, ten German spies were released from the jail; however, eight of the spies chose to remain in Ireland.


During the 1950s the number of prisoners detained in the prison was low and dropped to less than 15. The prison subsequently closed on 5 June 1956 after the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform James Everett passed the Sligo Prison Closing Order, 1956 on 25 April 1956 and the prisoners were transferred to Mountjoy Prisonmarker.

The closure of the jail was welcomed by councillors of Sligo Corporation as they felt it was a symbol of slavery and the conquest of Ireland.

In 1957, the Irish Department of Justice transferred the ownership of the prison to Sligo County Council. The Department, however, retained control of three houses. One of these was retained as a Bridewell in which a prisoner could be rheld on remand overnight. The last time this Bridewell was used was circa 1959 for a youth remanded on a murder charge. The lawwas changed to allow a Peace Commisioner to remand a prisoner to Mountjoy, thus the necessity of overnight remand was removed. In 1961, there were plans made to convert the former prison officers' quarters into married quarters for the Gardaí. However, this never materialised and the prison is now used as a storage facility for Sligo County Councilmarker with a portion of the site redeveloped as council offices and the headquarters for the Sligo Fire Brigade.

Notable inmates

 Ned Langan, a Sligo character and talented artist who specialised in painting public houses, spent
a number of seven day sentences in "The Cranmore Hotel" as the locals called it, for being drunk and disorderly.

List of Governors of Sligo Jail

  • Mr. J. Beatty 1830 - 1857
  • Mr. Walsh 1861 - 1886
  • Capt. Loyd 1886 - 1899
  • Mr. McArthur 1900 - 1901
  • Mr. William J. Reid 1906 - 1924
  • Mr. Hipwell 1924 - 1943
  • Mr. T. Maher 1943 - 1947
  • Mr. J. Kelly 1947 - 1950
  • Mr. Moody 1950 - 1950
  • Mr. Kelly 1950 - 1954
  • Mr. Moody 1954 - 1956


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