The Michael Coleman Heritage Centre draws together the many strands of the South Sligo musical traditional. The main building is a focal point for the living tradition, for which the area is so rightly famous and houses a theatre, a large audio-visual display on South Sligo, its music and the life of Michael Coleman. Interactive touch-screen facilities provide information on traditional music and instruments and a selection of music preformed by local musicians. Well-known exponents of the south Sligo style of traditional music give classes in a wide variety of instruments. A few miles west of Gurteen is the Coleman home which was integral in the development of traditional music in the area. A music archive, one of the most important elements of the whole project, is housed here.
In 1914, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Coleman sailed to America with his friend John Hunt. He joined the Keith Theatres vaudeville circuit, and played at many venues. In 1917, he settled in New York City, and married Marie Fanning, originally from County Monaghan, Ireland. They had one child, Mary.
Between 1921 and 1936 he recorded roughly eighty 78-rpm records for many record labels, including: Shannon, Vocalion Records, Columbia Records, Okeh Records, New Republic, Pathe, O'Beirne de Witt, Victor Records, Brunswick Records, and Decca Records. Some of these were re-issued under the Intrepid, Coral Records, and Ace of Hearts labels. He was mainly accompanied by pianists, but on some recordings he used guitarists.
He was the most famous exponent of the Sligo style, both at technical and expressive levels. The Sligo fiddle style is highly decorative, using many triplets. James Morrison is another exponent of this style. Michael's records reached County Sligo, and influenced a new generation. He died on January 4, 1945 in New York City, and is buried in St. Raymond's Cemetery, in the Bronx.