Personalities who shaped the Early Years – Senator Arthur Jackson & Dudley M. Hanley
It was Senator Arthur Jackson who suggested that a Chamber of Commerce be established in Sligo. Speaking at a meeting of the Harbour Board in November 1922, Senator Jackson put forward that a Chamber of Commerce would safeguard and benefit all traders in Sligo. A letter is sent out to ascertain the level of interest. 57 names are received, and a meeting is called at the Café Cairo on Wine Street.
Senator Jackson addressed the meeting and explained the objects and desirability of establishing a Chamber of Commerce in Sligo. He went on to say that there was scarcely an important town in England, Wales or Ireland, and certainly not a seaport, which had not a Chamber of Commerce in existence for many years. In connection with projected legislation, far more importance was paid to representations from Chambers of Commerce than to similar representations made by municipal bodies or harbour boards. He formally moved that a Chamber of Commerce be established in Sligo and the motion was met with unanimous approval. The First General Meeting of the Sligo Chamber of Commerce is then held in the Café Cairo at 11.30 a.m. on Monday the 15th January 1923.
Born in Belfast, Arthur Jackson moved to Sligo prior to his marriage in 1882 to Alice Pollexfen, an aunt of W.B. Yeats. He would go on to manage the Pollexfen milling and wholesale businesses in Ballisodare. The owner of the Slag Mills at Quayside, he was the director of the Sligo Gas Company. Elected to Sligo Corporation in 1919, he supported the Corporation’s resolution in December 1921 to ratify the Treaty and was subsequently nominated to the First Seanad by the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, W.T. Cosgrove.
Although elected to the First Committee of the Chamber, he was unable to commit to attend meetings regularly. In place of that, he provided support at national level on matters of concern to the Chamber and it was his son, A.P. Jackson who was the more active in Chamber business. They both died in 1938, Senator Jackson in February and his son Arthur Pollexfen (A.P.) seven months later in September. The Chamber minutes record “the great loss this Chamber and the Town of Sligo generally have sustained by the death of Mr. Arthur Jackson D.L. It was on his suggestion in the year 1922 that the Chamber was formed and the keen interest he always displayed in the prosperity of the Trade and Commerce of the Town will ever be remembered”.
One of the original founding members of Sligo Chamber, D.M. Hanley was the second President of the Chamber from 1935 until his death while in 1946. Born in 1876 in Easkey in West Sligo, he was elected Nationalist Member of Sligo Corporation in 1908, going on to become Mayor of Sligo between 1917 and 1919. As Mayor, he conferred the freedom of the City of Sligo on Countess Markievicz after her release from jail in recognition of her prominence in the Easter 1916 Rising. He used his business acumen to great effect steering the Corporation out of the debt that threatened its existence, succeeding in having legislation passed in Westminister allowing the Corporation to collect a sufficient rate to improve its financial position.
After the Treaty was signed in December 1921, D.M. Hanley gave his allegiance to Arthur Griffith and presided over the meeting in Easter 1922 in Sligo where Griffith, then President of Dáil Eireann, addressed a gathering at the junction of Knox Street, (now O’Connell Street), and Grattan Street, a meeting place referred to for some time as “Griffiths Corner”.
D.M. Hanley championed many issues of concern to the business interests and to the community of Sligo, including advocating for a road to the sea in Rosses Point; clearing of coal congestion on the Quays to facilitate the landing of shipping goods. He met with the newly formed Electricity Supply Board and Sligo Corporation to propose public lighting in 1928, the town being in complete darkness at the time. He urged the Electricity Supply Board to adopt an underground system of wiring in Sligo instead of the proposed unsightly wooden poles.
Successful in business, his company D.M. Hanley traded in building materials supply, the company later going on to trade for many years as Brooks-Hanley, and today in 2023 is now known as Brooks. Recognised for looking after the wellbeing of his employees, he built two rows of terraced houses for the poorer employees, one in Maugheraboy and one in Temple Street and which still bears the name “Hanley Terrace”.
His passing while still serving in office as President, in January 1946 brought the following tribute recorded in the Chamber Minutes.
“Mr. Hanley was an outstanding man in the commercial life of Sligo and was prominently identified with National affairs for the past thirty years. Through his passing the Chamber has suffered a great loss”.
# Sligo Chamber Centenary