Lights Finally Switched on on Sligo Island

Irish Times, Tuesday, December 7, 1999

By Theresa Judge, North West Correspondent

A colour television, a washing machine and a freezer were the three things Mrs Margaret McGowan was looking forward to most after her island home was finally connected to the national electricity grid.

Visitors arriving for the lighting up of ConeyA new 10,000-volt underwater cable meant Coney Island, Co Sligo, was able to experience its first Christmas lights ceremony, performed yesterday by the Minister of State, Mr Éamon Ó Cuív. The McGowans are the only remaining family living full-time on the island, but 14 houses, used mainly as holiday homes, have been connected. Less than a mile from the shore, it is possible to drive across to the island from Strandhill at low tide. Up to 100 people, many with family connections to Coney, crowded around the island's tiny public house to watch the Christmas tree light up.

Margaret and John McGowan's three children are now in their 20s and living away from home. Their eldest son, Michael, said it was normal for them to have been taken to school by boat. The electrification of the island is part of a £1 million scheme jointly funded by the ESB and the Department of the Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht and the Islands to bring electricity to eight islands off the west coast.

Mr McGowan said in his youth there was a population of about 30 on this Coney Island.






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