Over 60 Ships have been lost in Sligo Bay with hardly a trace surviving however look out for the following, 1886 Naryana- Wrecked, Coney Island. Her full nameplate hangs in MJ Wards Bar, Coney Island while a photo of her captain and her ships lifeboat nameplate can be seen in Austie’s. 1912 SS Sligo- wrecked, Ardbowline. Her anchor is mounted close to her Captains house near the end of the village 1925 Diamantis Pateris- wrecked near the village with 5000 tons of maize aboard. Some interesting pictures in Harrys bar and her Captains Table takes pride of place in the front bar of Austie’s.
Pirates & Smugglers
Being a seafaring place, the village was home to pirates and smugglers. Elsinore House, latterly owned by Henry Middleton, was originally built by John Black otherwise known as “Black Jack”, who was reputed to be a fine smuggler and pirate. There was even an enquiry into the operation of an armed gang of smugglers in Rosses Point in the early 1800’s. For “Black Jack’s” fine efforts his beautiful house Elsinore was eventually seized by the authorities.
Pilots and sailors
Rosses Point has long produced many sailors and Sea Captains who traded across the globe. Our most famous sailor is the Petty Officer standing on The Perch Rock since 1821, none other than our own Metal Man. When ships line up his light with the Oyster Island light behind, they know they have the right course home, and when they reach him his outstretched arm points to the deep channel. Did you know that his designer Thomas Kirk also designed Nelsons Statue once on the pillar in Dublin and the three statues atop the GPO. Pilots kept twenty-four-hour lookout for arriving ships. They did this from the watch houses. The oldest is on the scenic walk. Within these walls WB Yeats listened to seafaring men tell tales of exotic lands abroad and, closer to home, of ghosts and fairies. This watch house on the scenic walk was replaced by one beside the 1st Tee on the Golf Course. Today the VHF radio replaces the need for long watches through the night.
The Metal Man 1821 navigational beacon in the form of a cast-iron naval officer
Henry Middleton, Uncle of the poet,
W.B. and painter Jack Yeats.
“Is he dead Captain?” “I can’t be sure” came the reply “but we can’t miss sailing on this tide”: “he’ll have to be buried”, and they did just that. They buried the sailor in a shallow grave on the headland, along with a loaf of bread and a shovel should he wake, and thus Deadmans Point got its name.
Ghosts and fairies
WB Yeats maintained that there were more ghosts in Rosses Point than anywhere and certainly there is no shortage of stories locally. Pirates and smugglers feature prominently so be very watchful as you pass Elsinore House or the pilot watch houses. As for the ‘Good Folk’ they had many haunts and were greatly respected by the local people. Most notably they appeared on the far strand and Bomore which inspired Yeats to write the Stolen Child. The old folk maintained that the project, way back, at Jackson’s Pier (along the scenic walk), was doomed to fail as the ‘Good Folk’ owned that part of the shore.
Poets and artists
Rosses Point has, in the past, provided inspiration for artists, poets and musicians which continues to this day. Our most famous connection is to the Yeats family. The village provided a haven for their youth along with inspiration for the writings of WB and the paintings of Jack. Moyle Lodge, Elsinore House among others were all Yeats’ family homes. The extended family were also very closely associated with Sligo’s shipping trade. Henry Middleton, who once owned the entire village, was Willie and Jack Yeats uncle and played host to the family each summer. It could be said that sufficient attention hasn’t been paid to the importance of the Yeatsian connection to the village, it may be very worthwhile to delve into WB’s writings for a glimpse of the village long ago, or to gaze at the way Jack captured the essence of the place in his paintings.