Fans of Irish literature will not want to miss Yeats2015, a year-long celebration marking 150 years since the birth of one of Ireland’s greatest literary figures, the ‘Wild Atlantic Poet’, WB Yeats. Events will take place in 2015 to celebrate and commemorate the life, works, influence and achievements of Yeats who was a Nobel Prize winner and is regarded as an Irish national treasure.
Yeats was born on 13 June, 1865 and much of the celebrating will be rooted in Sligo on Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, the poet’s ‘spiritual home’, but Dublin, Galway and other counties and international cities will also hold events.
Widely considered the greatest poet of the 20th century, Yeats was awarded his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 for his “always inspired poetry, which, in a highly artistic form, gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. His lyrical poetry has long been a favourite with musicians and he is regularly referenced in popular culture, in fact quotes from one of his best-loved poems, the ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’, have appeared in films such as Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, and in the science fiction TV series, Fringe.
Many of Yeats’s poems speak of the beauty, mythology and distinct character of the Sligo countryside, which was also home to his wider family. Such was the whole family’s love of the Sligo area that it also inspired Yeats’s brother, Jack, a painter, who was one of the most important figures in Ireland’s 20th century visual art scene.
The Yeats family’s influence in the area was so great that the breathtaking and varied scenery of mountains, woodlands and coast around Sligo is now known as ‘Yeats Country’, and it’s a popular stop along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Yeats aficionados will enjoy visiting ‘bare Ben Bulben’s head’, Table Mountain, where the poet requested he be buried. His grave can be visited in a churchyard in the village of Drumcliffe but don’t expect to be visiting it alone. The grave is an important stop on a tour through Yeats Country which attracts thousands of visitors to the region each year.
Need to Know:
Sligo is situated 216 kilometres north west of Dublin (driving time approximately 3 hours).
The Yeats2015 celebrations will run throughout 2015. Visit the official website for a calendar of events.
Photos and information courtesy of Tourism Ireland