Updated: 22/02/12 : 06:44:33
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Kerry legend who faced 'the Sligo sash' comes to town

KERRY LEGEND Jimmy Deenihan, holder of five All Ireland senior football winners medals, comes to Sligo tomorrow night (Thursday) to launch a book tracing the history and origins of the town.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht, Mr Deenihan will launch "Irish Historic Towns Atlas No 24, Sligo" as part of the Borough Council's celebration of 400 years of town history.

The authors are Fióna Gallagher and Marie-Louise Legg. Fióna Gallagher is a well-known Sligo local historian who, five years ago, wrote and published her 864 page hardback history "The Streets of Sligo : Urban Evolution Over the Course of Seven Centuries." Marie-Louise Legg is based in London and has published widely on Irish history including "The Census of Elphin, 1749" eight years ago. Sligo now joins 22 other Irish towns and approx 460 European towns in 17 countries which feature in the Historic Towns Atlas series.

Major Draw

Minister Deenihan is a  major draw as a full Cabinet Minister but also a member of open of the greatest GAA teams of all time, the Kerry team of the 1970s and 1980s, pictured left,  which featured John Egan, Pat Spillane and Jack O'Shea and 'Bomber' Liston and won four All-Ireland senior titles in a row and lsot the fifth only in the dying moments of the 1982 Final. In all, Deenihan won five All Irelands, seven Munster titles, five Railway Cup medals and captained Kerry in 1981. He also played rugby with Garryowen.

In his 2008 book "Tales From The Dail Bar" former Sligo/Leitrim TD Ted Nealon, a noted Sligo GAA inter county star of the 1950s who had also played rugby, recalled how he strolled into Deenihan's Dail office wearing a sash as colleagues gathered to head off to the inauguration in Dublin Castle of Mary Robinson as President of Ireland in 1990. He casually asked the Kerryman to help him clip it up.

"Deputy Deenihan examined it from all angles," recalled Nealon: "Then came the question - 'Jaysus, Nealon, what did you get this for - playing football? You'd think you were waiting for the Artane Boys Band to strike up!"

Walking Tour

Thursday night's event is being co-hosted by Sligo Borough Coucil and Sligo County Council. The latter provided financial support towards publication. To mark the launch, the Councils will be joined by representatives of the Royal Irish Academy, for whom the Historic Towns Atlas series is a research project that traces the growth and decline of Irish towns and cities through maps and historical sources.

The author Fiona Gallagher will guide a walking tour of historic Sligo on this Friday morning at 10.30am, assembling at City Hall. All are welcome.  A searchable CD-ROM is included in the Atlas, which will retail at 30 euro.