To the right of Sligo Town Hall stands a statue of Mr P.A. McHugh who was Mayor of Sligo in 1888, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1900 and also a Member of Parliament for North Leitrim in 1892.
P.A. McHugh was also the Nationalist owner of “The Sligo Champion” newspaper, as well as being one of the leading figures in the political affairs of Sligo in the period from 1885 up to the time of his death at the age of 51 years of age in 1909.
P.A. McHugh was well known as a firebrand figure in Irish politics, and as the publisher of the Sligo Champion, he was against Sinn Fein when it first started. Being put into jail for as he put it, printing the truth about the land laws in North Leitrim.
The first meeting of Sligo County Council was held in the Grand Jury room, Sligo Courthouse on April 22nd 1899. P.A. McHugh was the only nominee for Chairman, and the record shows that he “took the chair amidst great acclamation” John ODowd was unanimously elected Vice-Chairman.
The Sligo Independent newspaper reported on the historic meeting with “It is gratifying to be able to say that their deliberations were conducted with becoming decorum. If the Council acts with wisdom and prudence, and attend to local affairs, the affairs of the county should progress.”
Five months after his election, P A McHugh resigned the Chairmanship due to the pressure of Parliamentary duties, with the mantle passing to John ODowd.
The statue of P.A. McHugh was originally erected in 1916, at the top of O’Connell Street, opposite the Post Office, in the middle of the junction, though it must be remembered that there wasn’t anywhere near the amount of traffic in those days, over 100 years ago. The statue was moved to its present location in the 1970’s to make way for a revised traffic system in the town centre.
There have been a number of attempts to move the statue back to its original position, opposite the post office, for many years, however, these attempts have come to nothing, with Sligo County County officials vehomently against the move, maintaining that the monument would be open to risk of damage in the operation and that it would interfere with the movement of traffic if it was relocated to O’Connell Street.
Mr P.A. McHugh died in 1909, with this fine statue being erected in his honour in 1916.