This year marks the bicentenary of Sligo Gaol, an extraordinary time capsule in the heart of Sligo Town. Having opened in 1818, the gaol closed it’s doors in 1956 and has barely been touched since. It is a fascinating place where layers and layers of history are waiting to be discovered within its graffiti covered walls of thickly peeling paint.
This year also marks the centenary of the imprisonment of Michael Collins at the gaol. He wrote detailed diary entries describing his time there, now held by the national archive.
I feel very lucky to have been given the title of Artist in Residence at the gaol for 2018-2020 by Friends of Sligo Gaol, a dynamic group of volunteers who are striving to conserve the gaol and promote greater understanding and public awareness of it’s history and heritage. Their ultimate goal is to see the gaol opened to the public as a heritage site.
During my residency I plan to make work in relation to Michael Collins and also some of the female political prisoners relevant to Sligo, Bridie O’Mullane and Linda Kearns. In tandem with this I intend to explore and research the physical building. The gaol provides a wealth of visual inspiration and I have been given an opportunity to record elements of this including the current atmosphere that may be hard to retain once opened to the public in the future.
This is just the beginning! I can’t help but be very excited by the prospect of this project. I’ll keep you all up to date with blog posts along the way.
Sligo County Council has designated the year 2018 as ‘The Year of Sligo Gaol’. Friends of Sligo Gaol are hosting events this September to commemorate the bicentenary of the gaol’s opening and the centenary of Michael Collins’ imprisonment. Find out more on their website www.sligogaol.ie