Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Sligo

Description from Thom’s Directory of Ireland, 1931.


Sligo, a maritime county in the province of Connaught. It is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by county Leitrim, on the south by counties Roscommon and Mayo and on the west by county Mayo. Its length from the River Moy to the Arigna River is 40 ¾ miles and its breadth from Lough Gara to Donegal Bay is 38 ½ miles.


The name of the county is derived from that of the town, being a shortened form of the Irish word Sligeach, which means river of sligs or shells. This river is now called the Garrogue. The part of the territory of Hy Fiachrach of the Moy, which extended to this county is represented by the barony of Tireragh. The other baronies represent ancient territories : Carbury; Leiny, the ancient Luighne; Tirerrill, the ancient Tir-Oililla; Corran; and Coolavin, the territory of the Mac Dermott; east of Lough Arrow is the northern Moytura or Moy-tura of the Fomorians, where a decisive battle was fought between the Dedannas and the Fomorians, the latter being vanquished.


Minerals: The eastern portion of the county near Lough Allen belongs to the Connaught coalfield, and there is also a district near Arigna where iron ore is found. In the Ox Mountains, lead and copper mines were formerly worked.

The Ox Mountains lie south-west of Ballysodare and run west-south-west to the confines of Mayo, and are continued by the Slieve Gamph Range. The chief summits of the Ox Mountains are from 1,200 to 1,800 feet high and Slieve Gamph is 1,363’ in height. The north-east of the county is the most mountainous. Truskmore (2,113’), between Sligo and Leitrim is the highest peak; Benbulbin (1,792’) is very precipitous on the side facing Sligo Bay; King’s Mountain (1,527’); Knockarea (1,078’), an isolated flat-topped hill stands about 4 miles west of the town of Sligo; Slish (967’) and Slievedaene (900’) rise on the south shore of Lough Gill; the Bralieve range (1,498) are on the east of the barony of Tirerrill; the Curlieu Hills are on the boundary of Roscommon near Ballinafad, the highest peak being Keishcorran (1,183’) and Carrowkee (1,062’) on the shore of Lough Arrow.

The Headlands are Lenadoon Point, at the entrance to Killala Bay; Aughris Point running into Sligo Bay; Killaspug Point is at the north-east of Balysodare Bay; Roskeeragh Point, separating Donegal Bay and Sligo Bay; and in the north of the county is another Roskeeragh Point near which is Mullaghmore.

The islands are few in number, the chief being Maguire’s Island off Killaspug Point; Coney Island at the entrance to Cumeen Strand, to the north of which is Oyster Island with a lighthouse; near Coney Island is Black Rock with a lighthouse. Seal Rocks lie near Roskeeragh Point; Conor’s Island and Dernish Island lie off the coast at Cliffony; Inishmurray, in Donegal Bay is a mile in length and contains the ruins of the ancient monastery of St. Laserian or Molaise.

The Bays and Harbours are Killala Bay, separating county Sligo from county Mayo. It branches into three inlets. Ballysodare Bay, a branch which runs up to the town of Sligo, and Drumcliffe Bay form part of Sligo Bay.

The chief Rivers are the Moy, which rises in the Ox Mountains, flows first south-east and then south-west and entering county Mayo it then turns northwards and touches county Sligo again about 2 ½ miles above Ballina, from which point to its mouth it forms the boundary between counties Sligo and Mayo. The chief tributaries of the river Moy in county Sligo are the Mad River and the Owenahar, the Lough Talt River, on the north bank and the Owengarve River and the Mullaghanoe River on the south bank. The Leafonny River flows into Killala Bay. The Easky River rises in Lough Easkey in the Ox Mountains and falls into the sea near Easky. The Ballysodare River flows into Ballysodare Bay, its chief tributaries are the Owenmore, the Owenboy and the Unshin or Arrow River. The Feorish flows through the south-east of the county into Roscommon. The Bonet river which for a mile marks the boundary between Sligo and Leitrim. The Sligo or Garrogue River issues from Lough Gill and falls into Sligo Bay. The Drumcliff River flows west into Drumcliff Bay. The Duff River forms part of the boundary between Leitrim and Sligo, and flows into Donegal Bay.

The principal Lakes are Lough Arrow, Lough Gara and Lough Gill in the south-east of the county. Lough Gill is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Ireland. Other lakes are Glencar Lake, CLoonty Lake and Skean Lake all on the boundary. In the centre of the county are Lough Easky, Lough Talt, Templehouse Lake, Cloonacleigha Lake, Toberscanavan Lake and Ballydawley Lake.


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 72,428 73,801 146,229
1831 83,730 88,035 171,765
1841 89,563 91,323 188,886
1851 62,881 65,634 128,515
1861 61,939 62,906 124,845
1871 56,984 58,509 115,493
1881 55,144 56,434 111,578
1891 48,670 49,343 98,013
1901 41,849 42,234 84,083
1911 40,060 38,985 79,045
1926 36,648 34,745 71,388

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 15,658, the average number in each family being 4.3. The number of inhabited houses was 15,644 showing an average of 4.6 persons to each house. The special inmates of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 13,244 Occupiers or Heads of Families who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 84.5% of the total for the county; of these, 711, or 4.5% of the families in the county occupied one room; 2,744, or 17.5% , 2 rooms; 7,414 or 47.3%, 3 rooms; and 2,735 or 15.2%, occupied 4 rooms.

There were in the county 264 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 331 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants; 100 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 16 cases where the occupants of one room exceeded 7 in number, including 1 cases where 10 persons and 1 case where 11 persons and 1 case where 12 persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 88.61% were born in the county, 9.01 % in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.77% in Northern Ireland, 1.22% in Great Britain, and 0.29% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 65,164 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 55,333 or 84.9% could read and write; 2,909 or 3.4% could read only; and 7,622 or 11.7% were illiterate. As this is the first census where the age was raised from 5 to 9 it is not possible to compare figures for earlier censuses. However, the report states that the percentage of those of 5 years and upwards who were unable to read and write was 22.4% in 1891, 16% in 1901 and had fallen to 13.8% in 1901.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
3,466 2,326 472 147 77 24

Irish & English
36,263 24,263 31,458 21,189 17,493 15,903

Irish Total
39,729 26,589 31,930 21,336 17,570 15,927
% of
31.8 23.0 28.6 21.7 20.9 20.1

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
90.4 90.9 90.8 90.56 91.24 92.89

Church of Ireland
8.0 7.4 7.5 7.63 6.96 5.94

0.7 0.8 0.7 0.79 0.86 0.43

0.6 0.6 0.6 0.61 0.58 0.44

0.3 0.3 0.4 0.41 0.36 0.30

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)

1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911
13,328 12,049 11,708 23,594 14,065 9,157