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By the mid nineteenth century the Protestant community had been established in Sligo for over 250 years. They had made a large contribution to the economic, social, political and cultural development of the town and county. However, by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Catholic politicians and businessmen had begun to have a greater influence in local affairs. The old order controlled by Protestant unionists began to give way to a new one controlled by Catholics and nationalists. The rise of various nationalist movements, the land acts which transferred ownership from the predominantly Protestant landowners to their Catholic tenants, the transfer of power locally brought about by the 1898 Local Government Act, the campaign for Irish self-government, the First World War, the War of Independence and the Civil War all dramatically impacted on Protestants and forced them to come to terms with the revolutionary changes. Sligo Protestants adopted various strategies to deal with their loss of numbers and influence. This is the story of how Protestants through political, economic, social and cultural organisations were able to maintain their own heritage and traditions while also working with Catholics for the development and mutual prosperity of Sligo in the new Irish State.
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Padraig Deignan is a PhD graduate of NUI Maynooth. He is also a graduate of NUI Galway where he was awarded a BA, MA and a Higher Diploma in Education and has worked as a teacher in Sligo for a number of years.
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