A plan has been revealed to restore Sligo’s old gaol as a visitor attraction. A feasibility study has been published by CHR, the consultants behind projects such as the Titanic Centre in Belfast and Spike Island in Cork.
For about ten years the Friends of Sligo Gaol community group has been making the case for the old prison.
They have been working in collaboration with the owners of the 200-year-old building, Sligo County Council, to conserve the building. The group commissioned the study by CHR Consultants, which now highlights the huge potential of the prison and says it could be a ‘game-changer’ for tourism in the region. The report recommends a phased development of the project, describing the approach as a ‘grand vision, small steps’.
The first step following its publication will be the coming together of stakeholders including the Friends of Sligo Gaol, Sligo County Council and Sligo Leader. Heritage Officer with the council, Siobhán Ryan, said conservation of the building will be a key starting point and much work has already been done in this area in recent years.
Ms. Ryan said there is huge potential to be unlocked in the gaol with many stories to tell, including those of some of the important people who were incarcerated there, among them Michael Collins, Linda Kearns and Michael Davitt.
She hopes that the project will benefit from the trend in increased funding being made available to heritage projects in recent years.