Sligo Shops – Michael Quirke

IMG_6403I’ve decided to do a new feature on the blog about Sligo shops. Now technically Michael Quirke’s shop isn’t just a shop, Michael is a craftsman, artist and gentleman. He makes his wonderful woodcarvings  from his shop and I went in to find out more about him.

IMG_6398Michael showed me this photo of his father which was taken in 1928 in the shop that is now Clarke’s Butchers in Wine Street Sligo (across the road from Michael’s shop). His dad was born in 1898 in Mallow and moved to Longford to escape the Civil War and from there moved to Sligo.  He built his own butcher’s shop in 1930 (the shop that now belongs to Michael). He smoked all his life and died when he was 90 years old.

IMG_6418Michael went to school at Summerhill here in Sligo. It’s a boys’ school and there were 45 boys in Michael’s class. He was telling me he wasn’t academic at all, mainly because he knew he was going to be a butcher and take after his dad. Twenty three of the boys in his class went into the priesthood, that’s over half the class!

1313589985_8aa54ee9b5_oWhen Michael was 28 he started making 3D figures. He had no interest in drawing so he stuck to making figures from clay and plasticine and moved on to wood. For years he carved his figures and was still a butcher. On the 23rd of May, 1988 (he thinks it was a Tuesday), Michael decided not to order any more meat and gave up the butchering to be a full-time woodcarver. Some of his customers thought he was mad! All these years later he’s still there.

IMG_6414Michael has many memorable moments in his shop. He showed me the photo above which is a picture of Senator Gary Hart’s son (he’s 6ft 7!) They have several wood carvings from Michael and visit him whenever they are in Sligo.

IMG_6435Michael is a real pleasure to talk to. He’s a wonderful storyteller and a great ambassador for Sligo. He also has a brilliant sense of humour, I love the sign he uses when he goes for lunch. He welcomes visitors to his shop so if you are in Sligo do pop in and say hello. You’ll be glad you did.


5 thoughts on “Sligo Shops – Michael Quirke

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  1. Thank you, Val, for the very lovely memories and a much-needed smile to my face this evening by sharing your visit with the wonderful Michael Quirke and his brilliant wood crafts. Michael’s shop was one of the first places we went into when we first visited Sligo many years ago.

    Did you know that Michael, his beautiful work and shop, as well as Sligo are affectionately written about in a wonderful book I bought many years ago in a now long-gone Sligo bookshop during that same first visit – about a female long-distance backpacker/hiker travelling along the entire coast of Ireland – called ‘Sea Legs,’ by Rosita Boland? I have read that book many times over the years, and whenever I get to the section about Sligo, another smile comes to my face and my heart.

    Thanks again, Val, for letting the world know about this wonderful man and wonderful craftsman’s work and shop. And thanks, too, for bringing me back to a very happy memory.

    1. I didn’t know about that book June! I must look out for it, I’ve read books by Rosita Boland before.

      Michael is a lovely man, so generous with his time.

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