For commentary on Lissadell House please scroll down

August 24th 2005

‘Another fine mess…’

Further to the ‘Bullies in Uniform?’ article (below) the garda scandal continues to fester. John Nicholson’s puppet, Bernard Conlon, as well as seventy four others, has just sued the State. Compensation payouts could cost the taxpayer over twenty million euro not counting court and legal expenses! Summonses have been served on the Garda Siochana and the Department of Justice for claims relating to alleged malicious prosecution, wrongful arrest, frame-ups, planting of evidence and false imprisonment.

According to the ‘Sunday Business Post’ the State is also being sued over the alleged planting of a gun on a suspect at a traveler campsite; the admission by the Sligo informer Bernard Conlon (Nicholson’s nemesis) that he was requested to make false allegations which led to two arrests; the alleged manufacture of an explosive device in a Garda station in Ardara; the planting of bogus arms finds involving informant Adrienne McGlinchey, and the making of hoax phone call to a Michael Peoples.

Garda Tina Fowley is also taking a civil action against the state alleging that she was persecuted following allegations of corruption she made against a senior officer. The Chief State Solicitor has already conceded liability for damages in the case of Mc Brearty Jr. In a letter he invited the Donegal man, ‘to attend settlement negotiations with a view to agreeing an amount of compensation and other terms of settlement.’

Nevertheless the compensation claim is expected to be played out in court on October 18 because of the State’s refusal to acknowledge that Mc Brearty’s two page ‘confession’ statement was bogus. The Donegal man signed only one page confirming that his father was an innocent man. The second page, which was not signed, contained a purported confession that was not matched by the medical evidence. In this unsigned ‘confession’ Mc Brearty is alleged to have stated that he bludgeoned Barron with a stick.

All five pathologists who examined the case said that Barron died as a result of a hit and run accident.

August 17th 2005

Yeats felled by Horseman who didn't Pass by!

"SLIGO has experienced the phenomenon of moving statues, but rather than being a miraculous event this is a testament to wayward driving. The statues on the move were the Yeats sculpture at the Ulster Bank and the Lady Erin at Market Cross. A drunk driver who failed to stop for Gardai in Sligo smashed into and demolished the statue of W.B. Yeats at the corner of Stephen Street and Markievicz Road.

WB Yeats undignified removal. Pic: Robert Cullen of Sligo Weekender

In the early hours of Friday morning the Volkswagen Golf GTI with an ³03 TS² reg (Tipperary South) mounted the pavement outside the Ulster Bank at speed and smashed into the massive Yeats statue, sending it flying towards the front door of the bank. Eyewitnesses who were quickly on the scene after the accident happened described seeing the front of the car badly damaged.  Both driver and passenger were saved from injury by the deployment of airbags.

However, oil from the car¹s engine had leaked over the pavement, causing a hazard to pedestrians. The remains of the Yeats Statue, which is believed to weigh around three tonnes, were removed on Friday morning at 9.30am by local authority workmen. The accident is believed to have happened between 3.30pm and 4pm when the Golf, driving at speed down Wine Street and across Hyde Bridge, failed to make the turn into Markievicz Road and instead hit the statue. There were unsubstantiated reports that the car was being chased by a garda vehicle at the time of the accident.  All Sligo Gardai would say was that the vehicle had failed to stop for gardai prior to the accident.  The driver was arrested at the scene...

Meanwhile, another of Sligo¹s famous statues was almost knocked from her pedestal.
The Lady of Erin statue, which once existed at the Northern end of O¹Connell Street, but was then moved to Market Cross, was hit by a delivery truck and moved at least six inches off her platform.

Article courtesy of the Sligo Weekender

The incident brings to mind a poem by local poetess, Kitsy Brady, written to mark the demolition of one of Sligo's fine old buildings. Perhaps Kitsy is a seer as well and foresaw the shattering of WBs 'silence of the night'?:

Cast a cold Eye

"Anorexic Yeats — gaunt and ill,/With his back to the greasy till,/Without the aid of a monocle,/

Forced to look at the spectacle/Of the beating down of the wise,/And Barton Smith's beaten down.

Moon-washed gables,/Etching a drunken silhouette,/Against the cold artistry of a leaden sky./

No sound to break the silence,/Only a sigh of sea water, sucking despondently,/

On the broken shells, of an empty bay.

Yeats ponders tense and lonely,/And he wonders why/The silence of the night,/

Accentuates the turmoil in his mind,/Or why he has to linger,/In this vast nothingness,/

Of sea and sky and calm indifference": Kitsy Brady, Holywell Road, Sligo

The Columbia Three

In his editorial Brian Mc Hugh ponders the political hypocrisy attending the re-appearance of the 'Columbia Three' (see pic below in previous article).

"Has it got something to do with the time of year," he asks, "or is there some major aspect of the Columbia Three saga that I have missed?

A year or two ago the Taoiseach, government ministers and most media commentators seemed to be losing sleep worrying that the Colombia Three might not get a fair trial in Bogotá. The Government sent a diplomatic officer from the Irish Embassy in Mexico, which is also accredited to Colombia, to attend the court as a consular observer. As the case continued Irish media reports described it as a farce. Allegations which would be laughed out of court here were being accepted as evidence against the men in Columbia.

The dubious trial ended and eventually a verdict was announced. Despite all the odds, given the nature of the trial, the men were found not guilty on the charge of training Farc guerrillas.  They were found guilty on the lesser charge of entering the country on false passports. Immediately the Columbian Government announced they were going to appeal the 'not guilty' verdict.  The appeal amounted to a totally political process which could deliver only one outcome ­ a guilty verdict. They were sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.

In the meantime, the three Irishmen went on the run in Columbia.  Despite a massive search and a watch at all points they could not be found. Two weeks ago it emerged that they have made it home safe to Ireland — and all hell has broken loose. Many of those who were so concerned about their well-being in Columbia now want them sent back there. Others want the Irish system to take up where the corrupt Columbians left off and have the men serve 17 years here.

Those who suggest that it be left to the gardai and the courts to decide on the case in the normal manner are being regarded as some sort of subversives. What's all the fuss about now? Why not let the Irish legal system take its course and leave it at that."

Brian concludes by postulating that perhaps it's the unusually hot summer that has affected how people view things.

Perhaps, Brian. Or could it be a callous manouevering for political advantage?

Then again when behaviour defies logic we may well recall the old adage: 'There's nowt so queer as folk!'

First with the news. Read the Sligo Weekender

August 10th 2005

Previous Newsround articles have featured attempts by US authorities to extradite Sligo priest Fr. Patrick Colleary to the US. Gerry Mc Loughlin of The Sligo Weekender brings the story up to date:

Fr. Patrick Colleary

A former altar boy who claimed he was the victim of sex abuse by Sligo priest Father Patrick Colleary said he was “outraged” at a recent decision not to extradite the cleric to face US justice. Curry priest Father Patrick Colleary won his court fight last week against extradition to the US to face sex abuse charges.

Mark Kennedy from Arizona said he was “very disappointed by the decision of the Irish courts. It is an outrage that he was not extradited to Arizona and I am very concerned about this decision. Leaving a predator like Colleary to walk the streets is alarming and disturbing."

Speaking after the judgement in Dublin last week, Fr Colleary said he was happy that it was all over: 'It should never have happened in the first place', he said. Last week Mark Kennedy(37) was paid E82,400 in an out of court settlement by the Phoenix Diocese without admission of liability. County Sligo priest Father Pat Colleary has successfully prevented his extradition to the US on sex abuse charges in the High Court in Dublin. The 55 year-old Curry native had denied two counts of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy and one count of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor in Maricopa county.

He was jailed for a month after being arrested in December 2002 after he was accused of molesting a minor. That charge was dropped under the Statute of Limitations. Father Colleary came back to south Sligo in January 2003. In May 2003 he faced fresh charges of sexual misconduct with a minor and attempted sexual conduct with a minor. He is denying all charges.

The High Court in Dublin agreed with applications from his legal team stopping his extradition on a number of grounds. Those grounds included fears that he would be ill-treated in prison if he was returned to Maricopa county jail Arizona. His lawyers successfully argued that conditions in the prison in Maricopa county were inhumane and there were also questions about the length of time since the alleged offences.

It emerged that 500 prisoners from the jail were paraded in pink underwear by Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio which raised concerns at government level that Fr Colleary would be mistreated ahead of his trial. Justice Philip O’Sullivan said there were ample grounds to believed that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gloated over the inhumane treatment he “dishes out” and appeared to take sadistic pleasure in his role as incarcerator. It was the duty of any Irish court to see that no citizen was handed over to such a regime, the judge said.

Authorities in the US had considered Father Colleary’s extradition as high priority. Maricopa county Assistant District Attorney Sally Wolfgang Wells said: “The crimes for which Mr Colleary stands accused, involving the sexual abuse of children, are reprehensible and must be addressed. We firmly believed that our community should not suffer because of this ill-advised act of the Sheriff’s Office.

Last week’s High Court decision is a milestone in a two year battle by the priest to stop his extradition to the US.


In a surprising and audacious move the IRA fugitives known as the ‘Columbia Three’ have surfaced in Ireland in recent days and given interviews to the media. The Columbian Government has demanded their return to that jurisdiction.

Will they be returned?

There is no extradition treaty between Columbia and Ireland. This weeks Sunday Business Post claims that the Colleary case will have implications for the Columbia Three should it go to court. Lawyers for the men could argue that a precedent has been set in that the constitutional rights of the Three would also be endangered if extradition was allowed.

August 3rd 2005

Twenty thousand people climbed Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo on last Sunday, many in bare feet, to celebrate Garland Sunday. Thousands more all over Ireland visited other ancient sites to worship or celebrate this great pre-Christian festival of Lughnasa.

Pilgrims at St. Farranan's Well

Your web host went to St. Farranan's Well at Doonalton near Easkey, Co. Sligo where 'Keeve Sunday', another name for the Lughnasa festival, is celebrated. St. Farranan is mentioned in his 'Life' as a descendant of the Irish High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages.

History records that, after the 6th cent. convention of Drumceat, Colmcille met his kinsman Farranan at Ballisodare. Tiobraid, the chief of the area, gave the site of three churches to Colmcille. Following his request Farannan was granted one of these after which the place became known as Alt Farranan. It has been a noted pilgrimage site ever since. Indeed we may be pretty certain that it was a special place of worship for the old faiths long before then as many of these ancient places were merely Christianized to the new religion.

In the saint's biography we read that, 'Farannan bestowed many virtues on the pool such that if any of the descendants of Fiachraigh, man or woman, should bathe themselves in it and splash the water of the pool three times on their foreheads, though they were ill before, he or she would come out of the stream in good health. He also commanded that no healthy person should sleep in his bed [pictured, a large stone slab] but only the sick who might be in trouble.'

Mass was said by Fr. Gillespie who noted during his homily the numbers of people who go to pilgrimage sites abroad such as Medugorje, Fatima, Lourdes etc. Is it not possible he asked that sacred places such as St. Farranan's Well, right at our own back doors, might be just as efficaceous in curing ills of the spirit and body?

Well we might ask! The same question was posed a thousand years before by another holy man in another place when it was a fashion for pilgrims to go to great trouble to visit Rome and other pilgrimage sites on the Continent.

He concluded that:

'To go to Rome

Is little profit, endless pain;

The Master that you seek in Rome,

You find at home or seek in vain.'

July 27th 2005

Garda John Nicholson (see below) is still in the headlines accused of 'setting up Bernard Conlon to make "false and malicious" claims in relation to the McBrearty family'. Former Donegal Garda Superintendent Kevin Lennon told the Morris Tribunal that Mr. Nicholson was a 'most deceitful person' who had misled him and had put the State in a 'position of compromise' through his deceptions.

The tribunal has heard evidence that Mr. Nicholson and other gardai had told Mr. Conlon to be caught in the McBrearty's nightclub in Raphoe drinking after hours so that he could be a witness against them in a licensing prosecution.

Referring to Nicholson's forgery offences Lennon said: 'Why did he not come to me and tell me the truth that he forged those certificates? He caused the State to be put in a position of compromise and misled me in every way.'

In another development private detective Billy Flynn, who helped uncover the garda corruption scandal in Donegal, is to sue the Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy. The lawsuit is in relation to defamatory comments made by Noel Conroy about Billy Flynn when Flynn brought evidence of garda corruption to his notice.

Westlife baby

On a lighter note WESTLIFE singer Shane Filan is celebrating the arrival of an ‘uptown girl’ of his own after his wife Gillian gave birth to baby Nicole over the weekend.
The Sligo Weekender reports that, 'the couple’s first child was born in Sligo General Hospital at about 8.27am on Saturday morning and although Gillian was reportedly two weeks premature, the delivery went smoothly.
The happy couple have so far refused any pictures of their new arrival, even declining a reported offer of E750,000 from a magazine. But proud grannies Mai and Rosaleen were beaming with joy on Monday as they came to visit their newest grandchild.'

July 20th 2005

Bullies in Uniform?

"How are the mighty fallen?"

Who could have visualised that in our time we would see the disintegration of the pillars of society? First, a scandal-ridden Church has fallen into disarray in recent years— and now that pillar of democracy, the police force, our Garda Siochana. The revelations arising from that quarter far surpass anything that shocked us in 'Serpico', the story of an honest cop in a crooked police force portrayed on the silver screen by Al Pacino in more innocent times. Lawmakers turned law breakers are every day now exposed in the planting of evidence, harrassment, intimidation, reckless endangerment, frame-up and cover up.

Garda Chief Noel Conroy

"There has been a cancer within An Garda Síochána for a long time," says Irish Times columnist, Vincent Browne, "and successive governments have gone along with it, in part because it suited them and in part because of fear of taking on the Gardai"

Convicted in July 2002 of issuing false certificates, Sligo cop John Nicholson, recently retired, seems to have been up to his neck in it. Chairman of the Morris Tribunal, Justice Frederick Morris, appointed to invesigate corruption has warned Nicholson about giving evasive answers: "These monosyllabic answers just won't do", he said.

The chairman frequently intervened while Nicholson was giving his testimony and finally warned him that if he was found to be obstructing the tribunal with his answers he would be prosecuted. Things may change soon as local solicitor Damien Tansey has been appointed to interrogate the 'monosyllabic' garda.

The Sligo Weekender reports:

"A Sligo solicitor will be questioning a retired Sligo garda following allegations the garda made about a deceased colleague at the Morris Tribunal. Justice Frederick Morris has given Damian Tansey leave to cross-examine ex-garda John Nicholson following his claims that deceased garda John Keogh gave him forged loss of earning certificates on behalf of Bernard Conlon, Cartron Bay in 1998. The judge also pointed out that the legal team of Donegal Sergeant John White had told a closed session of the Tribunal that John Nicholson had lied to the inquiry to cover up alleged corruption in Sligo which included the alleged setting up of Bernard Conlon as an agent provocateur and the forged certificates.

Mr Tansey will be representing the family of the deceased garda Keogh at the Tribunal when John Nicholson is recalled later this year. John Nicholson has already denied using the deceased garda's name for his own 'convenience and to cover his own tracks' while under cross-examination from ex-Supt Kevin Lennon.

In July 2002 John Nicholson was convicted of passing three forged documents on behalf of Bernard Conlon at Riverstown court. Justice Morris has already warned John Nicholson that he could be prosecuted if he is found to have obstructed the tribunal during his evidence which
lasted a week.

At one point the judge gave up in his quest for further information on the background to the forged certs saying; 'I give up. It¹s clear that your skill as an interrogator is standing to you.' Ex-garda Nicholson told the Tribunal that garda Keogh gave him the documents in May 1998 to get payment for Bernard Conlon who was giving evidence against the McBrearty family in court cases in Donegal.

John Nicholson said he was under pressure from Donegal Sergeant John White who said they would lose Conlon. The ex-garda said that Sergeant White was the man responsible for his downfall.

Meanwhile, Inspector Gerry Connolly told the Tribunal that his role in the affair had cost him promotion in An Garda Siochana. Inspector Connolly, who was then a sergeant,  admitted   putting  in two bogus expenses claims for Bernard Conlon in October 1998. One of the claims was for a bus fare and the other was for subsistence. He told the Tribunal he did not know that one of the loss of earnings certificates he sent in on behalf of Bernard Conlon was forged. Inspector Connolly said he had suffered for submitting the inaccurate forms and was disciplined.

This was the reason why he was not made superintendent, he added. Ex Sligo chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan told the Tribunal that it was not the case that any garda in Sligo would forge documents. He said he could not help the Tribunal about where the forged loss of
earnings certificates came from."

Meanwhile in today's 'Irish Times' we read of a garda inspector arrested and charged on public order offences arising from an incident over jelly beans at a fast food outlet in Tipperary. Apparently the man flew into a rage when the machine "was unable to dispense the jelly beans and then failed to return the coins". Staff were forced to call local gardai who tried to calm the inspector down.

They failed, at which point the inspector's wife and brother-in-law entered the fray. "All three were arrested and taken to Templemore Garda station. They will appear at Templemore District Court in September. The inspector will answer three public order charges."

The mind boggles...

July 13th 2005

One of my correspondents, David Burke, has made the following interesting observations:

"Your piece on Spike Milligan was of great interest to me as although I knew he was Irish I didn't know he originated in Sligo . It is also a small coincidence that my son, also named David, wrote the obituary for Melita Norwood who was known here as the 'Granny Spy'. Amongst other things she was active in the Aldermaston marches for the 'ban the bomb' campaign in the 60's.

Among her marching companions were Spike Milligan and Jack Straw. Her obituary came out in all the papers here but only the 'Independant' mentioned Spike Milligan and Jack Straw as her companions. Dave's book will be coming out early next year he tells me, and is called 'The Spy who came in from the Co-Op'. Bloomsbury Press is the publishers so keep an eye out for it."

I have had several requests to print Eva Gore Booth's poem in full. Here it is:

The Land to a Landlord

You hug to your soul a handful of dust,

And you think the round world your sacred trust —

But the sun shines, and the wind blows,

And nobody cares and nobody knows.


O the bracken waves and the foxgloves flame,

And none of them ever has heard your name —

Near and dear is the curlew’s cry,

You are merely a stranger passing by.


Sheer up through the shadows the mountain towers

And dreams wander free in this world of ours —

Though you may turn the grass to gold,

The twilight has left you out in the cold.


Though you are king of the rose and the wheat,

Not for you, not for you is the bog-myrtle sweet,

Though you are lord of the long grass

The hemlock bows not her head as you pass


The poppies would flutter amongst the corn

Even if you had never been born,

With your will or without your will

The ragweed can wander over the hill.


Down there in the bog where the plovers call

You are but an outcast after all,

Over your head the sky gleams blue —

Not a cloud or a star belongs to you.

Eva Gore-Booth

July 7th 2005

Dr. Patrick Heraughty: A Tribute

It is with great sadness that I learned this week of the death of that ‘grand old man’ of Inishmurray Island, Dr. Paddy Heraughty. Author of ‘Inishmurray: Ancient Monastic Island ’ Paddy was born on the island just a few days short of 93 years ago.

Dr. Paddy Heraughty explaining 'cursing stones' on Inishmurray

His achievements in the fields of literature and medicine are well known. Having a keen interest in history and archaeology he was an expert on these subjects, particularly where they related to his beloved island. Whether King or Commoner, Paddy, for that is how he was affectionately known, treated all the same.

My memories of ‘Dr. Paddy’ are deeply cherished, for it was he, on one of his many trips to the island, who inspired and encouraged me to write ‘Inishmurray: Gale Stone and Fire’ and more recently ‘Inishmurray : Island Voices’. In the course of my work, as a mentor and friend, he was always on hand with information and advice. His responses to my many queries were written in perfect longhand and, usually by return of post, were meticulously well informed and witty. Not the smallest mistake in the finished product — in any of my books — missed his eagle eye.

I feel privileged to have known this kindly and unique gentleman and will fondly remember him always.

Go nDeanaimh Dia trocaire air an anam

June 29th 2005

We are well into salmon season but catches are poor. The outlook is not good but, hope springs eternal and surprises may be in store. Catches from sea-angling boats are good and excitement mounts as shark fishing time approaches.

Lobster fishing is in full swing all along the Northwest coast. Undependable as ever, the lobsters move and feed for reasons known only to themselves.

Technology to pinpoint the lobsters whereabouts and thereby increase the catch has not been invented and is not likely to be. Only the veteran fisherman knows by instinct where to find the elusive crustacean. Even at that it's no more than an educated guess and luck plays an important part.

However, take a stroll along any of the small harbours on the Sligo coast and you may be lucky enough to come on a scene like this: Friendly fishermen with gourmet food, fresh from the clear unpolluted waters of the Atlantic Ocean, to tempt you!

"Goon but not Forgotten"

Gerry Mc Loughlin of the 'Sligo Weekender' reports on one of the world's most beloved comedians:

Spike Milligan may be “Goon but not forgotten” as a special ceremony was performed in his honour in Holborn Street. The manic depressive comic genius had a plaque unveiled by Sligo Mayor Declan Bree outside the family home in Holborn Street on Saturday last. Spike’s father, Leo Milligan, was born in Holborn Street and he accompanied his grandfather, William, out on shows in Sligo.

Mayor Bree said he was pleased that one of his last public acts was to unveil the plaque: “There were countless facets to his genius and he was very prolific as a comedian, writer and all round entertainer who was highly regarded for his work on the radio, TV, print and on stage. The infamous Goon Show heralded a new comic movement. But like all outstanding geniuses he was sometimes driven and sometimes distracted by many complexities. The comic façade disguised a turbulent and troubled personality. He was funny, difficult, very productive, eccentric, often abrasive, but most all loved and admired”...

Councillor Bree also thanked Ray McCullough, the owner of the house who has been highlighting

the Milligan connection with Sligo for many years and all those who had promoted the idea of the Sligo connection. “Spike Milligan was a comic legend and I am very pleased that the Sligo connection is now being acknowledged as part of his distinctive legacy”.

June 21st 2005 (Summer Solstice)

Celebration of "Bonefire night" (not bonfire!) on June 23rd is one of the oldest customs in the Northwest. The old people told us it was in honour of St. John, but given its proximity to the Summer solstice we may reasonably suspect it was originally a celebration of the longest day of the year.

According to Tory island tradition, bonefires in Co. Donegal were lit in ancient times on the longest day of the year. When Colmcille came he changed the celebration to the feast of St. John. On Inishmurray island off the Sligo coast island residents roasted crab and lobster claws on the flames. Dr. Paddy Heraughty recalled the ‘wonderful sight’ of bonefires lit all along the mainland shore and on the slopes of Benbulben. In my youth it was one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year.

Bonefire Night 2005 at Cliffoney, Co. Sligo

In recent times though, as each year goes by, we see less and less bonefires being lit. Now the authorities are taking a hand in curtailing this ancient summer festival. The Sligo Weekender reports: " Strict warning issued for bonfire night"

It goes on:

'A strict warning has been issued to Sligo people in the run-up to bonfire night. Those who use the night to get rid of household rubbish will be dealt with heavily by local authorities. The warning comes from Sligo County Council just two days before traditional bonfire night, June 23. Also, officials are urging people to exercise utmost care if they are lighting a bonfire.

A spokesperson for the council said; "Waste material should not be provided by householders or others for the purpose of burning in bonfires. Following new regulations, it is now a criminal offence to give your waste to any individual who does not hold a current and valid waste collection permit.  
It is also an offence to dispose of waste in a manner, which is likely to cause environmental pollution.

This warning is usually issued at this time of year but this year it seems that Sligo County Council

Cliffoney bonefire with Ben Wisken in background

has taken a more serious view of the situation. Although, officials stated they do not wish to spoil the traditional celebration, they do warn against people taken advantage of the event. They wish to advise the public of the environmental and health implications of bonfires at this time, particularly when they are composed of waste materials.

The traditional bonfires burned wood and straw. Nowadays, it is more common to see old tyres and waste materials used as fuel. Tyres, in particular, are frequently burned but people are urged to be aware that they are one of the most polluting materials...

...The spokesperson added: "Very often the public are concerned about the amount of dioxins emitted by incinerators/thermal treatment plants, yet few realize that almost three quarters of dioxin emissions arise from the burning of domestic waste. "Many think that burning their waste is a cheap and quick way of getting rid of it."

The burning of waste is illegal under the Air Pollution Act 1987.'

Editor: Aw, c'mon folks, its Bonefire Night, loosen up! Shouldn't we apply a bit of common sense and try to encourage the few old traditions we have left?


Addendum: Appropos the Lissadell House controversy (see below) and closures of rights of way by Hugh Tunney at Classiebawn, Mullaghmore, lines penned by Eva Gore Booth, The Land to a Landlord are as apt today as when they were written. They reflect on the oppressive landlord system both she, and her sister Constance, had rejected:

You hug to your soul a handful of dust,

And you think the round world your sacred trust —

But the sun shines, and the wind blows,

And nobody cares and nobody knows.


O the bracken waves and the foxgloves flame,

And none of them ever has heard your name —

Near and dear is the curlew’s cry,

You are merely a stranger passing by…


…Down there in the bog where the plovers call

You are but an outcast after all,

Over your head the sky gleams blue —

Not a cloud or a star belongs to you.

June 15th 2005

The more things change…

Lissadell House is in the news once more. The row, according to the Sligo Weekender, “once again centres on the issue of access to Lissadell House and its lands, a row that has continued now for over a year. And its looking like it could continue for quite some time as the Lissadell Action Group, who hotly contest the closures, prepare a file for Sligo County Council.

Childhood home of Constance Markievicz

The row began after the road, which they say is the main road into Lissadell House and which  some locals say can prove has been travelled through for generations, was the first to be blocked off permanently to the public. This remains the case.

During the last two weeks, a second access route, known as the borough road, has been blocked off. Grainne Dunne, a member of the group said: "People going back generations travelled on these roads. And this is not just people who worked on the estate at some time or those that lived nearby. This is people who used to come here for Sunday afternoons, people from all over the county and beyond. We feel these roads through usage over more than 100 years have been established as having public right of way and should remain open."

The following are extracts from letters written by people who say that access was never an issue.
"During all the year, at no stage was access denied or permission required to use the main entrance or any of the roads. I strongly object to the closing of the gate and appeal to Sligo County Council to uphold the right of way."

Another extract from a letter reads: "From the time my children were small, my family have used all the roads through Lissadell, including the main entrance for leisure purposes, such as walks, access to the beach for swimming and picnics."

On the other hand Lissadell owners Constance Cassidy and Edward Walsh are holding firm to the position that it is their private land and they can do what they like:

“…Lissadell was sold to us in December 2003 with the written assurance of Josslyn Gore Booth

Entrance to Lissadell

that no rights of way existed. Prior to the completion of the sale, Sligo County Council sent us a letter specifically identifying public roads in the area. Not one of the internal avenues running through the estate has been identified by Sligo County Council as a public road…

“…We met with three people who call themselves the Lissadell Action Group in May 2004 and wrote to them by letter on 26 May 2004 to which we received no response. They are fully aware of the circumstances in which the gates were closed. They were closed to provide necessary protection for our children from boy racers and heavy traffic. This group is also aware that the Lissadell beach is fully and absolutely accessible to all members of the public through the Coillte entrance…”


Barrier at entrance to 'Burra'

Editorial: Surely the most famous resident of Lissadell House, Constance Markievicz, who gave everything she had to the poor, must be turning in her grave as she, who was so generous, sees another Constance erect barriers and turn people away.

Constance Markievicz and our forefathers dreamed about and fought for the day when British rule in Ireland would be no more. They aspired to a bright new dawning when they and their children would not be ground down by foreign landlords, when Irish land would once again be owned by Irish people.

The old people are gone now and it’s too late for them but, in many instances, their dream has come to pass. In North Sligo, Palmerston’s demesnes have come into the ownership of Fermanagh man, Hugh Tunney. The Gore-Booth properties, recently sold off by Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth, have been purchased by barristers Constance Cassidy and Edward Walsh.

What more could we want?

Well, it seems the old struggle continues as the new owners of Lissadell House, no better than the old, attempt to close off rights of way long held by local people.

As a famous man once said: The more things change the more they stay the same

First with the news: Read the Sligo Weekender

June 8th 2005

Dear Reader,

I hope you enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend and are happy and contented to be back to the old familiar routines again? I trust you won’t be disappointed that this article is more an editorial than a Newsround — but you can do that sort of thing when you have your own website y’know! Back to news next week.

‘Bank Holidays’ (for those of you who don’t live here and don’t know) are long weekends where Monday is designated as a holiday. Why they are called ‘Bank’ holidays and not ‘Merchant’ or ‘Factory’ holidays I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because banks and bank managers were formidable and highly respected institutions at one time. You practically genuflected when the bank manager walked by. From a different planet altogether they were! Nuns and priests too.

A Michael Davitt Holiday?

Bank, shmank, why not give these holidays a meaningful name! Like the Americans do, for instance. They have holidays to commemorate or remember significant events or people like ‘George Washington’s Birthday’, ‘Labour Day’, ‘Thanksgiving Weekend’ or ‘Independence Day’ on the 4 th of July. Makes sense to me — so long as they never have a George Bush holiday!

How about a Daniel O’Connell Day or Padraig Pearse Day or Michael Davitt Weekend for us? It seems to me that would make a lot of sense. Maybe we’ll get around to it sometime. If we do, don't forget you heard it here first.

This past weekend was Whitsun. How meaningful a name is that? Ask the man in the street what it means and you are likely to be met with a blank stare. Some of us will remember vaguely from our school days that this is when the Holy Ghost descended on the Apostles in the form of flames of fire. It’s coming back to me now! Wasn’t that when they were given the gift of tongues so they could go out and preach to the masses and make good Christians of us all? Not much to celebrate here for Crom Dubh though, the pagan God of the Celts. And I’m sure it’s a pure coincidence that Whit falls on the old Pagan Festival of "Hwita Sunnandaeg", just like Christmas falls on the old Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Christians would never hijack pagan festivals. Not at all. Perish the thought.

So what did you do for the holiday then?

Perhaps you headed for Strandhill, Co. Sligo and danced the night away at the Set Ceilidhe at the

County Fleadh like Noel Mullaney and Teresa McCormack in the picture on right.

I see by last Monday’s Times yer wan from the Irish Times, Grania Willis, completed her climb of Everest. Front page news, it was! Ahem, excuse me, but hasn’t this been done before, and fifty years ago at that.

Seems like Everest is becoming a bit like Blackpool on a hot Sunday afternoon these days: climber-tourists all over the place. Sir Edmund Hillary is quite miffed about it all. And why shouldn’t he be? He had to do it the hard way. Sir Edmund said mountaineering was a challenge between the mountain and the mountaineer and sniffed at the notion of people paying their way to the summit: "Having people pay $65,000 and then be led up the mountain isn't really mountaineering at all," he said.

Oh now, Eddie don’t be a spoilsport.

So why all the fuss then? Perhaps it’s because Ms. Willis’s jaunt is a ‘sponsored climb’ which is expected to raise a lot of money for charity. Hmmmm. Seems a long way to go to raise money — but it’s all the fashion in Ireland these days. Some friends of mine went to walk the Great Wall of China for charity. I kid you not. Others have gone to Australia and the USA .

No sacrifice is too difficult to make.

I was talking to a man recently who has come up with a novel way of raising money for charity. He’s going to seek sponsorship to go into some houses where there are old people and do a bit of painting and cleaning for them. Another idea he has is to go to St. John’s Hospital and take some wheelchair-bound invalid under his wing for a day.

You know, I don’t think it’ll ever catch on!

Come to think of it I could have got some sponsorship myself lately. On the holiday weekend I walked all the way to Tor Rock. You don’t know where it is? Good! It’s a wildly beautiful place and I selfishly hope it remains that way. I won’t tell you where to find it but the clues are in the photos on left. Do enjoy them and perhaps you can go and discover this secluded, tranquil spot for yourself sometime.

Happy Holidays!



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