County Sligo
Contae Shligigh
Coat of arms of County Sligo
Yeats Country
Anthem: "Isle of Innisfree" and
"Down by the Salley Gardens"
Location of County Sligo
RegionNorthern and Western
County townSligo
 • Local authoritySligo County Council
 • Dáil constituencySligo–Leitrim
 • EP constituencyMidlands–North-West
 • Total1,837 km2 (709 sq mi)
 • Rank22nd
Highest elevation647 m (2,123 ft)
 • Total70,198
 • Rank27th
 • Density38/km2 (99/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
F56, F91 (primarily)
Telephone area codes071 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

County Sligo (/ˈslɡ/ SLY-goh, Irish: Contae Shligigh) is a county in Ireland. It is in the Northern and Western Region and is part of the province of Connacht. Sligo is the administrative capital and largest town in the county. Sligo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county was 70,198 at the 2022 census.[3] It is noted for Benbulben Mountain, one of Ireland's most distinctive natural landmarks.


Main article: History of Sligo

The county was officially formed in 1585 by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland, but did not come into effect until the chaos of the Nine Years' War ended, in 1603. Its boundaries reflect the Ó Conchobhair Sligigh confederation of Lower Connacht (Irish: Íochtar Connacht) as it was at the time of the Elizabethan conquest.

This confederation consisted of the tuatha, or territories, of Cairbre Drumcliabh, Tír Fhíacrach Múaidhe, Tír Ollíol, Luíghne, Corann and Cúl ó bhFionn. Under the system of surrender and regrant each tuath was subsequently made into an English barony: Carbury, Tireragh, Tirerril, Leyny, Corran and Coolavin. The capital of the newly shired county was placed at Sligo.

A causewayed enclosure discovered in 2003 at Maugheraboy is one of the earliest indications of Neolithic farming activity on the Cúil Irra Peninsula.[4] The nearby megalithic cemetery of Carrowmore forms part of a huge complex of Stone Age remains connecting Carrowkeel in south Sligo to the Ox Mountains, to the Cuil Irra Peninsula, where the passage tomb named after the legendary Queen Maeve, Miosgán Médhbh, dominates the western skyline from the crest of Knocknarea Mountain.

The Caves of Kesh, famous in Irish mythology, are in south County Sligo. A recent decoding[5] of the work of Marinus of Tyre and Ptolemy shows Sligo as the likely location of Nagnata, an important place of assembly in the Iron Age. Famous medieval manuscripts written in the area include the Book of Ballymote, written in the territory of Corran, the Great Book of Lecan, and the Yellow Book of Lecan, both written in Tir Fhiacrach. The patron of the Annals of the Four Masters was Fearghal Ó Gadhra of Coolavin in south County Sligo.

Local government and politics

Main article: Sligo County Council

Sligo County Council is the local authority for the county. At the 2019 Sligo County Council election, it was divided into three local electoral areas (LEAs): BallymoteTobercurry (7 seats), SligoStrandhill (6 seats), and Sligo–Drumcliff (5 seats).[6] Each of these form a municipal district, with the containing Sligo–Strandhill known as the borough district of Sligo.[7]

Former districts

Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, County Sligo was divided into the rural districts of Boyle No. 2, Dromore West, Sligo, and Tobercurry, and the urban district of Sligo.[8] Unlike most urban districts, Sligo had retained its borough corporation. The rural districts were abolished in 1925.[9] Sligo Borough Corporation became a borough council in 2002,[10] before being abolished in 2014 in common with all borough and town councils in Ireland.[11]

National politics

County Sligo is part of the Dáil constituency of Sligo–Leitrim (4 TDs).[12] At the 2020 election, Martin Kenny (Sinn Féin), Frank Feighan (Fine Gael), Marc MacSharry (Fianna Fáil) and Marian Harkin (Ind) were elected.

Coat of arms

This coat of arms was adopted by Sligo County Council in 1980. The design on the black shield, which shows an open book on which there is a Celtic Cross and a red rose, represents collectively the literary and cultural history of Sligo. These refer to such early works as the Books of Ballymote and Lecan, while the rose was a significant theme in the poetry of W. B. Yeats. The escallop shells sprinkled on the shield refer to the origin of the word Sligeach – "a place abounding in shells". The boar's head refers to the "wild boar of Benbulben" in the Diarmuid and Gráinne myth. The colour scheme of the crest incorporates the Sligo GAA colours of black and white.[13]


The Sligo coastline at Mullaghmore, with Classiebawn Castle in the distance
Beezie's Island on Lough Gill

County Sligo is the setting for a large number of the texts in the Mythological Cycles. The story of Diarmad and Grainne has its final act played out on Ben Bulben. The Second Battle of Moytirra is associated with Moytirra in South County Sligo. Other texts include Bruidean Ceise Corann, set on Keash Mountain. The rich array of megalithic monuments in the area has been an inspiration to artists and writers such as Sir Samuel Ferguson. The poet and Nobel laureate W. B. Yeats (1865–1939) spent much of his childhood in northern Sligo and the county's landscapes (particularly the Isle of Innisfree, in Lough Gill) were the inspiration for much of his poetry. Yeats said, "the place that has really influenced my life most is Sligo". He is buried in North County Sligo, "Under Ben Bulben", in Drumcliff. W. B. Yeats's brother Jack, a painter, also was inspired by the Sligo landscape.


County Sligo has a long history of traditional music. The south of the county is particularly noted with such musical luminaries as James Morrison, Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran, Fred Finn, Peter Horan, Joe O'Dowd, Jim Donoghue, Martin Wynne, Oisín Mac Diarmada (of Téada), tin-whistle player Carmel Gunning and the band Dervish. The county has many traditional music festivals and one of the most well-known is the Queen Maeve International Summer School, a traditional Irish Music summer school of music and dance which is held annually in August in Sligo Town. On the more contemporary music scene there are Westlife, Tabby Callaghan and The Conway Sisters who are from Sligo. Strandhill, about 9 km west of Sligo, hosts the Strandhill Guitar Festival[14] each year, featuring a wide variety of guitar music and musicians.


The county is home to League of Ireland Premier Division club Sligo Rovers, who have played home matches at The Showgrounds since they were founded in 1928 and won the league on 3 occasions. Their colours are red and white, hence their nickname the Bit 'O' Red. Brother Walfrid, the founder of Celtic Football Club, was born in Ballymote, in the south of the county.

The county is represented in Gaelic Games by Sligo GAA. Their colours are black and white. Sligo has won the Connacht Championship 3 times.

Geography and subdivisions

Sligo countryside and Ben Bulben seen in the background

Sligo is the 22nd largest of Ireland's 32 counties in area and the 27th largest in terms of population.[15] It is the fourth largest of Connacht's 5 counties in size and third largest in terms of population. The County borders County Mayo to the west, County Roscommon to the south and south-east and County Leitrim to the northeast.

Largest towns in County Sligo (2016 Census)

Beach near Strandhill
  1. Sligo, 19,452
  2. Tubbercurry, 1,986
  3. Strandhill, 1,753
  4. Collooney, 1,610
  5. Ballymote, 1,549
  6. Ballisodare, 1,350
  7. Enniscrone, 1,223
  8. Coolaney, 990
  9. Rosses Point, 883
  10. Grange, 586

Towns and villages

Places of interest

See also: List of National Monuments in County Sligo


See also: Category:People from County Sligo


The Dublin–Sligo railway line is operated by Iarnród Éireann in Ireland. It starts in Dublin Connolly station, terminating at Sligo Mac Diarmada railway station in Sligo. In the county there are stations at Ballymote and Collooney.

See also


  1. ^ ConnollyCove (13 December 2018). "Mesmerising Beauty of County Sligo". Archived from the original on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  2. ^ "County Profiles – Sligo". Western Development Commission. Archived from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Census Mapping – Sligo County Council". Census 2022. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  4. ^ Danaher, E. (2007) Monumental beginnings: The archaeology of the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road. NRA Scheme Monograph 1. Dublin: The National Roads Authority
  5. ^ "Login". Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  6. ^ County of Sligo Local Electoral Areas and Municipal Districts Order 2018 (S.I. No. 632 of 2018). Signed on 19 December 2018. Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Archived from the original on 2 February 2019. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 31 October 2022.
  7. ^ Local Government Reform Act 2014, s. 19: municipal districts (No. 1 of 2014, s. 19). Enacted on 27 January 2014. Act of the Oireachtas. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 5 September 2020.
  8. ^ Clancy, John Joseph (1899). A handbook of local government in Ireland: containing an explanatory introduction to the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898: together with the text of the act, the orders in Council, and the rules made thereunder relating to county council, rural district council, and guardian's elections: with an index. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker. p. 426.
  9. ^ Local Government Act 1925, s. 3: Abolition of rural district councils (No. 5 of 1925, s. 3). Enacted on 26 March 1925. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 22 December 2021.
  10. ^ Local Government Act 2001, 6th Sch.: Local Government Areas (Towns) (No. 37 of 2001, 6th Sch.). Enacted on 21 July 2001. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 3 August 2022.
  11. ^ Local Government Reform Act 2014, s. 24: Dissolution of town councils and transfer date (No. 1 of 2014, s. 24). Enacted on 27 January 2014. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 21 May 2022.
  12. ^ Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Act 2017, Schedule (No. 39 of 2017, Schedule). Enacted on 23 December 2017. Act of the Oireachtas. Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved from Irish Statute Book on 24 December 2021.
  13. ^ "History Around You". Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Sligo Arts".,13321,en.html/ Sligo Arts. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  15. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. ISBN 0-340-89695-7.
  16. ^ "He danced to his own tune". The Sligo Champion. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  17. ^ "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Sligo". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  18. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
  19. ^ "Server Error 404 – CSO – Central Statistics Office". Archived from the original on 9 March 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
  20. ^ "Histpop – The Online Historical Population Reports Website". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  21. ^ NISRA – Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (c) 2013 Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. (27 September 2010). Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
  22. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  23. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012.

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