Mr Cooke: Not that many people could tell you who Edward J Ormsby-Cooke was, or might even care who he was or when he existed, but since a little bit of local history never goes astray with some people, let’s take a look at his story .
Mr Cooke, as he would have been called in those days, was an elected member of the Rural District Council representing Tubbercurry with a seat in the Sligo County Council between 1902 and 1911.
His daily work was running his extensive general merchants shop which also was reported to have the largest staff employed in Co. Sligo in those days. Everything from the manufacturing of clothes for ladies and gents was carried out on those premises. It is learned that it did a massive trade until 1920 and the arrival of the Black and Tans who set the premises on fire. Cookes was a prime target and many of the staff had Republican sympathy and some supported the IRA.
Rathscanlon Co-op Creamery was also destroyed at that time for the same reason. It is also learned that Duffy’s Circus arrived in town that day, but due to the troubles and the fires, decided to move on to Ballymote. Mrs Duffy, now deceased, told me of this experience and the fear they had of all this violence in the town way back then.
The fire was the end of Cooke’s. as he never raised a shilling in the town after then. Many of his workers then set out to make a way for themselves. Some remained as shop workers, a few emigrated and others managed to set up in business themselves.
The premises he owned was located where the flower shop, Credit Union, Bootlock and the Square China take away are now.
One of his former employees, Edward Masterson bought a section of that space and set up business and residence there.
Mr Cooke was to take refuge at the Marist Convent where he lived up to his death and donated many of his valuables to the Sisters there. He is buried along with his sister in the Marist Convent cemetery.