A few weeks ago I went to the famine graveyard in Sligo. I couldn’t get in as the gate was locked. I phoned Sligo County Council to see if they knew anything about why the gate was locked and was put through to the parks department. They had no idea why it was locked and no idea who I should contact.
I went into town and called into the tourist office to see if they had any idea about the locked gate. They didn’t and again phoned the council….they got speaking to someone else who didn’t even know Sligo had a famine graveyard!
As I was no further forward I gave up for that day. I did hear from Joe of Sligo Heritage and Michael from Wild West Irish Tours that there was a way into the graveyard from St. John’s Hospital so I returned to find the way in.
I was shocked and quite frankly appalled that the way into the Famine Graveyard is now alongside a row of huge bins. This is so disrespectful for the poor souls who lost their lives during the famine. If the main gate can’t be opened for some reason and the only way in is through St. John’s hospital surely they could move the bins elsewhere in the grounds, not right in front of the graveyard.
The plaque, above reads: ‘Rielig an Ghorta Mhóir‘. You are entering a long abandoned Famine Graveyard. Here on the grounds of County Sligo’s 1841 Workhouse, lie buried the ravaged bones of unumbered thousand unameless souls – “I witnessed the women and little children, crowds of whom were to be seen scattered over the turnip fields, like a flock of famished crows, devouring raw turnips, mothers half naked, shivering in the snow and sleet, uttering exclamations of despair whilst their children were screaming with hunger…The workhouse is full, and police are stationed at the doors to keep numerous applicants out…” Captain Wynne, District Inspector, Christmas Eve 1841.
Unfed, unwashed, unmourned, Here lie the remains, To we, the survivors, the scared rite of burial, Into our hands their trampled bones, perpetual vigil.
Sponsored by the County Sligo Famine Commemoration Commitee.
Of course it’s very hard to read the plaque because there is a rubbish bin obscuring it!
I hope someone who can do something reads this blog and gives the poor souls in the graveyard the dignity that they didn’t get in life, by either opening the main gate or moving the bins. The rest of my photos are here.
17.10.12 An Update. The bins are still at the gateway but the HSE are doing their best to try to get them moved to another location. They have come up against bureaucracy but will continue to try to find a solution to this situation. Thank you to all who took the time to comment and I will continue to post updates as, and when, I get them.