Sligo Borough Council is the local authority of Sligo which is the largest urban settlement between the cities of Derry to its North and Galway to its South. It comprises of an elected council of twelve members who annually elect a mayor from within their member. The Mayor chairs meetings of the Borough Council and represents the people of the Borough. The council adopts an annual estimate of expenses and makes decision on policy.
Sligo is situated in the north west of Ireland set within magnificent scenery of mountain rivers, fronting the Atlantic Ocean. The town is the capital of the north west and is located at the mouth of Sligo Harbour on the Garavogue River. The nearest city of similar size is Derry, located over 80 miles (120kms) away. The town is the administrative, commercial and industrial capital of the County and region.
Sligo town is served by a range of infrastructure, it is located on the national primary route (N4), the main Dublin road. Other primary and secondary routes connect Sligo with Belfast, Galway, Derry, Limerick and other major centres in the region. The town is also serviced by a national rail route linking Sligo to Dublin via the centres of Mullingar and Longford and also has a bus terminus located adjacent to the railway station linking the town to centres nationally and also providing a local service; this gives the town a excellent regional infrastructural base and the opportunity to expand.
As highlighted the distance of any urban centre of a similar size is over 80 miles away. The town is therefore in a strategic location serving a wide area for economic and social needs. The second and third largest towns in the County are Tubbercurry and Ballymote, with a population of just 1,421 and 1,229, respectively (C.S.O 2006). The town therefore is the most significant urban centre within the county and region.
Work to date on the National Spatial Strategy explores the potential for the establishment of sub-regional Gateways. These will be urban centres that are strategically placed and are already displaying the potential to achieve sustainable economic growth. The choice of location for these Gateways will be based on their potential to stimulate growth in the surrounding towns, villages and rural areas in their zone of influence and on the quality of transport connections to the rest of the country. Sligo has the potential to become a regional gateway through the development of its existing social, economic and environmental facilities, which currently serve a wide hinterland area.
Sligo has developed at the confluence of the Garavogue River with the sea. The centre of the town is situated along the river course between Lough Gill and the sea.
The landscape and topography are important features of County Sligo and have a significant effect on the town and environs
County Sligo is dominated by a mountainous landscape, with Sligo town surrounded by the Ox mountain range to the south, Knockrea to the west, Keelogboy, Leenan and Benbo mountains to the east and range including Benbulben and Kings Mountain to the north and east . There is a sense of enclosure from these mountains in Sligo Town as they provide a backdrop to development and are visible from many locations throughout the town.
The main environment features of Sligo Town and Environs consist of significant expanses of fresh and salt water, and associated habitats, along the Garvogue River, Lough Gill and Sligo Bay. Large areas of mixed and natural woodland are situated on the banks of the Garavogue at Hazelwood Demesne, Cleveragh Demesne, Aghamore, to the south of Aghamore Bay and Tobernalt Bay and a significant zone of archaeological amenity is located in the Carrowmore area.
Within the town and environs there is also varying topography, the most notable area of high ground is the area to the south west of the town in the Carns and Onaphubble area; this area is clearly visible from the town and has significant views over Lough Gill, Hazelwood Demesne and the town itself. The route of a scenic drive currently runs through the area and down to Lough Gill itself.
Directly to the north of the town centre the topography rises to form a ridgeline of notable prominence in the vicinity of the Forthill area (also the site of Green Fort archaeological site); this area has remained undeveloped due primarily to its archaeological importance and visual sensitivity. Other ridges occur further north and east of the town.
Within the Sligo Borough Council boundary, development has grown to the north, west, and south leaving noticeable tracts of land to the southwest, northeast and east undeveloped. The areas that have developed however, are biased towards the south of the town towards the Carrowmore area, where the majority of development has occurred.
The town’s growth can be categorised into three principle areas: the inner core (the commercial heart of Sligo); the inner fringe belt (displaying older residential development and dominated by significant public and institutional lands) and an outer fringe area (typified by more recent suburban growth and larger industrial lands.
The inner core of the town is dominated by commercial and retail activity, although its edges display some noticeable office activity (particularly along the Mall and western Wine Street) and some public-institutional lands. The commercial core also displays the greatest intensity of uses and the density is highest in this area. This area also features some of the more impressive architecture dating from the 18th
century, a period of prosperity for the town.
The inner fringe belt features pockets of older residential development but is dominated by public institutional lands including religious institutions, the Hospital, The Institute of Technology and several schools; these uses are an important part of the town centre. There are also areas of open space most significantly in the Green Fort area to the north of the town centre.
The outer fringe belt features primarily residential development but also includes large areas of industrial land to the west and smaller areas to the north and east. A significant part of this belt is the port, which is a critical element of the town’s structure as its role is likely to change in the future. There is a noticeable areas of brownfield land and under-utilised sites available for development in this area.
Three road bridges traverse the river in the town centre – Hyde Bridge and New Bridge, and Hughes Bridge (these link the inner core of the town). A footbridge also connects the central area of the town.
Sligo is served by the National Primary Route N4, the main Dublin Road. Other primary and secondary roads connect Sligo with Belfast, Galway, Enniskillen, Derry and Limerick and other major centres in the region. These routes particularly the Dublin road have influenced the pattern of development in Sligo by drawing development towards them. There is also a rail connection with Dublin and a regional airport 5 miles from the town, important infrastructural elements in any future growth of the town.
Sligo serves as an administrative, employment, commercial, service, health, and educational centre for a large hinterland area. It also acts as an important distribution centre in the northwest.
Sligo has a strong and considerably important manufacturing base, particularly with the existence of the IDA Business Park, and larger companies such as Abbott the pharmaceutical company. The I.D.A. has recognised this importance by naming the town a ‘gateway’ town. The town however is primarily identified by its service sector, which plays a very significant role in the town’s function. The town draws employment from a large area due to these functions.
The town has an important role for retail provision. The commercial centre is regionally significant particularly in comparison goods shopping and is quite significant and for convenience goods. The commercial area serves a large hinterland area for goods and services. The importance of retail regionally was highlighted by a retail impact analysis carried out for Sligo indicating that the retail catchment is very large, extending as far as 44 miles from the town.
Sligo Institute of Technology gives the town a regional educational role. The campus has a student population in excess of 3000 and has the capacity for 6500. The institute offers undergraduate diploma and degrees, and postgraduate masters and Ph.D’s. St. Angela’s College is also a third level college offering a wide range of specialist courses.
Sligo General Regional Hospital establishes the town as a regional centre in terms of health. Extensive medical and specialist facilities are available at the 300+ beds Regional Hospital, which also include a training school for nursing.
County Sligo has the largest group of archaeological sites/remains in the country and has a rich association with literature, culture, arts and music. Several features give Sligo a unique character as a tourist destination – its association with Yeats, the landscape; surfing in places such as Strandhill, the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery; the built heritage such as Sligo Abbey, Lissadel House and Markree Castle in addition to an attractive townscape and interesting street pattern.