(This material is largely taken from Jim McGarry's booklet Collooney published in 1980.)

SITUATION: The village of Collooney (Irish: Cúil Mhuine, the corner or angle of the shrubbery) is perched on a small hill in a picturesque setting seven miles south of Sligo town. Sitting in the 'Gap of Collooney', it looks out on the Ox Mountains, Knocknarea, Ben Bulben, Slieve Deane, the Curlews and Kesh Corran. Dominating all is the spire of the Catholic church.

MILITARY HISTORY: Battles at Collooney, a strategically important gap in the Ox Mountains, are mentioned in the Annals in years 673, 844, 1291, 1326. Better known battles are the nearby Battle of the Curlews in 1599 and the Battle of Carricknagat (or Collooney) in 1798.


1125: A fortified castle was erected by Turlough O'Connor, High King of Ireland, to guard Connacht against attack from Ulster

1408:A branch of the McDonaghs, McDonagh of Ballindoon, built a fortified castle in Collooney. The first village grew up around this castle.

1599: In the Nine Years War, which Red Hugh O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neill waged against English domination in Ireland, Collooney Castle was held by O'Connor Sligo in the English interest. (There was traditional enmity between the O'Donnells and O'Connor Sligo because of O'Donnell's longstanding attempts to expand his power into Connacht. O'Connor Sligo was the first to feel the brunt of those expansionist policies.)

When Red Hugh besieged Collooney Castle Sir Conyers Clifford, Governor of Connacht, was ordered to march to its relief. O'Donnell with his own forces and those under O'Rorke and McDermot lay in wait at the Curlew hills between Boyle and Collooney. The English forces were utterly routed and Clifford killed. (A fuller account of the Battle of the Curlews may be accessed by clicking here.)

1798: When General Humbert and his French forces together with their Irish allies reached Collooney on their march towards Donegal, the Sligo garrison came out to confront them. In the ensuing minor battle at Carricknagat, a townland beside Collooney, the English forces were forced to yield and retreat to Sligo. A young Irish aide to General Humbert, Lieutenant Bartholomew Teeling, distinguished himself by his bravery in the encounter. In 1898, the centenary year of the battle, a statue of Teeling was erected in Carricknagat.

1998: The most notable event in Collooney in modern times has not been a military battle but the peacetime development of opening a new road.

For some years now, many of the National Routes in Ireland are being improved in an EU initiative aimed at strengthening the cohesion of the Union. One result has been that the seven-mile stretch of the N4 which links Collooney to Sligo town became a fine dual carriageway in 1998. Sligo is now barely ten minutes away on an excellent road and, in effect, this has made Collooney part of the Sligo urban area. The consequences, economic and social, for what was a small village will be great.

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