The Battle of the Books mural at Sligo Library was painted in 1948 by local artist Bernard McDonagh. Organised by Norah Niland, the County Librarian at the time, the work was commissioned by Sligo County Council with funds made available through the then newly established Arts Council of Ireland. Research carried out by the artist’s son, Ian McDonagh, suggests that the mural may have been the first art commission by a local authority funded by the Arts Council. (

Financial assistance was also given to two local authorities towards the cost of painting murals, i.e., to Sligo County Council towards the cost of painting a mural entitled The Battle of the Books by Bernard McDonagh in the County Library Buildings, Sligo, and to Sligo Borough Council towards the cost of painting another entitled The ‘Wanderings of Oisn by the same artist in the Council Room. The first mentioned of these murals was unveiled by the Director, An Comhairle Ealaion, on the 5th March, 1955.“(Extract from  An Comhairle Ealaíon.  Third annual report from 1st April, 1954 to 31st March, 1955)