Portrait of a Lady

Continuing our summer programme of cultural events, don’t miss your chance to attend our next concert.

Portrait of a Lady

at Thoor Ballylee

Friday 24 June at 8:00 PM

The concert features Helen Hancock (Soprano), Catriona McElhinney Grimes (Piano), and our guest Kitty Sabry (Violin).

Join us for an evening of eclectic music – from French song and German lieder to Irish song and arrangements of Irish music for solo piano.

The programme explores the voice of women and includes a song cycle by Clara Schumann, songs by Lili Boulanger and Catriona’s own arrangements of Irish music for piano solo. Irish song settings and songs by Fauré, Schubert and Mozart will also feature.

Come find us in the historic venue of Thoor Ballylee, Gort, Co. Galway where Yeats himself lived and where many powerful female voices were heard!

Click to book your tickets at eventbrite. Tickets available on the door, but going fast!

Yeats’s Birthday and Bloomsday Play

Today, 13 June, sees the 157th birthday of WB Yeats.

This Thursday 16 June is Bloomsday, a special event this year as 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

James Joyce, Ulysses (Paris: Shakespeare & Co., 1922)

For Bloomsday this Thursday Thoor Ballylee celebrates with a special performance of Noramollyannalivialucia: The Muse and Mister Joyce” written by Irish poet Eamon Grennan.

Curlew Theatre Company presents

Noramollyannalivialucia:

The Muse and Mister Joyce

at Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee

8pm Thursday June 2022

Admission €15. Tickets available on the door: or for bookings phone 091 631436 / 0858620935

This is a solo play for voices based on Nora Barnacle’s life, in which Joyce’s Galway wife Nora is visited by a group of people (the audience) keen for stories about Joyce, and receive some home truths. Extracts from Joyce’s works interweave with Nora’s memories as she composes a portrait of the artist’s wife as an older woman. The play is performed by Curlew Theatre Company with musical interludes by Nicola and Karina Cahill on harp and flute.

Yeats had the idea that Thoor Ballylee might work as an artistic a hub for Irish artists like James Joyce.

So what did Yeats and Joyce have in common?

Only too much, suggests Joe Hassett in his play Wandering Stars, premiered yesterday at Thoor Ballylee. What they had in common artistically is explored further in an essay by Adrian Paterson published this week by Modernist Studies Ireland.

To find out more, come along to Thoor Ballylee this Bloomsday, or any day this summer!

Opening times for Thoor Ballylee

June 2022

Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Players for Wandering Stars joined by the author Joe Hassett

Plays and Poets Picnic

2022 is a literary summer season! In the run up to WB Yeats’s 157th birthday on 13 June, and Bloomsday on 16 June celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses, we have special cultural events taking place at Thoor Ballylee.

Poets Picnic

3pm Sunday 12 June 2022

+

4pm Wandering Stars

performed by the Wild Swan Theatre Company

Poets Picnic

Our Poets Picnic is free to all young and old! It is an annual gathering of poetry lovers and all folk interested in poetry and culture, in honour of WB Yeats’s birthday. Do come along for our magnificent outdoor picnic spread, with readings of Yeats’s poems, thoughts about his life and legacy, and reflections and poems by other artistic figures.

Wandering Stars

This year the Poets Picnic is followed by a play performed by The Wild Swan Theatre company. Written by Joe Hassett and directed by Marion Cahill-Collins, this explores the intertwined lives of Yeats and Joyce and Nora Barnacle. Admission to the play which starts at 4pm inside the tower is €10 with tickets available on the door.

Cast: Claire O Donnell as Nora, Justin McDermott as Joyce, Gerry Conneely as Yeats.

Ukraine Refugees Tea and Poetry Day Ireland

Tea for Ukraine Refugees

On Saturday 30th April Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is hosting a fundraiser in aid of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. It is a fitting venue as much of Yeats’s work, including “Meditations in Time of Civil War”, conceived and written at Thoor Ballylee, considered the nature of war and violence, and led to him receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The event on April 30th 2022 will consist of a afternoon tea served at the cottage in the 14th century tower between 3pm and 4.30pm.

You will be spoiled with a selection of delicious treats kindly provided by local restaurateurs and businesses.

A photograph from the event: all proceeds go to Ukrainian refugee organizations. For more details visit here. And below Nicolay Homenko shows off his artistic skills – this piece was created during the concert!

Poetry Day Ireland

Poetry Day Ireland takes place today, Thursday 28 April 2022. The theme is ‘Written in the Stars’.

Poetry Ireland ask us all to share a poem, read a poem, speak a poem, participate in a Poetry Day Ireland event or programme your own event on the day. Everyone is invited to join in and celebrate, just remember to tag them on #PoetryDayIrl. 

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society joins in with this weird millennial poem from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). It refers to a mythical battle of ancient Ireland whose terrifying violence seems to come again, whereupon the speaker humbly submits in peace before the fates written in the stars, dictated by the demiurge, or prime mover of the heavens.

‘The Valley of the Black Pig’

The dews drop slowly and dreams gather: unknown spears

Suddenly hurtle before my dream-awakened eyes,

And then the clash of fallen horsemen and the cries

Of unknown perishing armies beat about my ears.

We who still labour by the cromlech on the shore,

The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,

Being weary of the world’s empires, bow down to you

Master of the still stars and of the flaming door.

WB Yeats, from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)

‘AE’ (George Russell), ‘Lordly Ones Appearing to a Turf Cutter’

Easter Reopening

Easter Saturday 16th April 2022

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is delighted to announce our Easter reopening, and welcoming back our visitors – after a two year closure – from 11am this Easter Saturday 16th April 2022! Comhaltas Gaillimh Theas will provide entertainment between 12 noon and 1pm.

Each weekend in April we’ll be open 11-4pm. Further opening hours will be announced for the summer.

Especially thanks to our many helpers, contractors, and volunteers (to help or join us see below) we are primed and ready, and excited to welcome you back!

Volunteers readying the tower for opening!

This Easter Saturday and beyond into spring and summer, come along and learn about the life and work of WB Yeats, the poems he wrote at Thoor Ballylee, and he and his family’s deep connections to the area and the west of Ireland. The cultural revolution his family began would involve the whole island in arts and crafts, so it is fitting that the restoration of the the restoration of the tower with local materials is continued today in the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society’s efforts with local craftworkers and landscape gardeners on the gardens, the Studio at Thoor Ballylee, and the Mill.

Clare Champion

The Clare Champion has an article about us!

Galway Films

For our spring reopening, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is presenting the online premieres of new films about Yeats and Galway. Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society youtube channel

With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, with camera and editing by Morgan Creative and Seanchas Productions, and featuring local musicians and contributors, these short films are voiced by luminaries like Marie Mullen from Druid Theatre and some of our very own members. They highlight places in County Galway important to Yeats and which feature in some of his finest poems, from ‘The Tower’ to (as here) ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, as a ghost returns to old haunts.

Come and help!

Thoor Ballylee historic fourteenth Century tower house, once home to Nobel Prize winning poet WB Yeats and his family, is managed and run by an amazing group of volunteers. We are currently adding to our volunteer pool so if you have a love of literature or history, enjoy interacting with people and have four hours a week to spare, please contact Thoor Ballylee at +353 85 862 0935, email thoorballylee@gmail.com, or contact us above.

We are a voluntary group with no permanent external funding. We’d love for you to help us keep this unique heritage site going for all of us today, and for future generations. To join us or donate any amount large or small see the donate page above.

Tidying at Thoor Ballylee

Getting Yeats’s tower ready for Easter

In readiness for our grand reopening on Easter Saturday, our team of volunteers took advantage of the spring sunshine and tidied and pruned and carried and cleaned and gardened and wheeled and worked and generally made the C14th Norman tower and its surrounds ready for visitors.

Committee members Lelia Doolan and Rena McAllen and other volunteers young and old muck in with the gardening and landscaping at Ballylee.
Our dedicated team of volunteers (and dog) take a break.

After over two years of waiting Thoor Ballylee will reopen for visitors Saturday 16 April 2022. The countdown continues!

Coole Park

Speaking of gardening, when you visit Thoor Ballylee, why not stop at Lady Gregory’s great gardens and woods at Coole Park? The latest of our short films highlighting Galway places features Yeats’s poem ‘Coole and Ballylee 1931’ and celebrates the place, the people, and all the inspiration to which it gave birth. Voiced by Marie Mullen from Druid Theatre.

With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, with camera and editing by Morgan Creative and Seanchas Productions, and featuring local musicians and contributors, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is presenting the online premieres of new films about Yeats and Galway. For more see Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society youtube channel

Countdown to Easter Reopening

Easter reopening

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is delighted to announce our Easter reopening, and welcoming back our visitors – after a two year closure – on Easter Saturday 16th April 2022!

It’s been a hard road, but after two years socially distanced or online, and with plenty of ongoing work to the thatch, the mill, and latterly our spring clean-up – and especially thanks to our many helpers, contractors, and volunteers (to help or join us see below) we are primed and ready, and excited to welcome you back!

The new thatch at Thoor Ballylee

Kiltartan Gregory Museum

Meanwhile we highlight other gems of the area for our visitors, and invite you to visit the award-winning Kiltartan Gregory Museum. The following film showcases this hidden gem, based in the old schoolhouse at Kiltartan Cross (mentioned in Yeats’s poem ‘The Irish Airman Foresees His Death’), devoted to Lady Gregory and Yeats and featuring all kinds of fascinating art, books, letters, publications, and memorabilia concerning the area and its literary heritage.

In the run up to our spring reopening, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is presenting the online premieres of new films about Yeats and Galway. Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society youtube channel

With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, with camera and editing by Morgan Creative and Seanchas Productions, and featuring local musicians and contributors, these short films are voiced by luminaries like Marie Mullen from Druid Theatre and some of our very own members. They highlight places in County Galway important to Yeats and which feature in some of his finest poems, from ‘The Tower’ to (as here) ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, as a ghost returns to old haunts.

Come and help!

Thoor Ballylee historic fourteenth Century tower house, once home to Nobel Prize winning poet WB Yeats and his family, is managed and run by an amazing group of volunteers. We are currently adding to our volunteer pool so if you have a love of literature or history, enjoy interacting with people and have four hours a week to spare, please contact Thoor Ballylee at +353 85 862 0935, email thoorballylee@gmail.com, or contact us above.

We are a voluntary group with no permanent external funding. We’d love for you to help us keep this unique heritage site going for all of us today, and for future generations. To join us or donate any amount large or small see the donate page above.

Returning to Thoor Ballylee

New films about Yeats and Galway

In the run up to our spring reopening, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is presenting the online premiere of new films about Yeats and Galway. These short films highlight places in County Galway important to Yeats and which feature in some of his finest poems, from ‘The Tower’ to ‘Coole and Ballylee 1931’.

With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, drawing on both their expertise and funding, and the work of some crack producers and content creators, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society produced this film series highlighting the importance of the tower and the Society’s work in “Spreading the News” about the literary connections of WB Yeats and beyond. These films are designed to attract audiences near and far to the delights of Galway, and help bring visitors to Thoor Ballylee and the many other important sites in our region.

Returning to Thoor Ballylee

Returning to Thoor Ballylee features a thin figure in cloak and hat – the ghost of an old poet perhaps? – returning to a place where he was once so fulfilled.

This reintroduction to the landscape and sounds of Thoor Ballylee features Yeats’s poems ‘To Be Carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee’ and ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’. It is voiced by Marion Cox and Ronnie O’Gorman with camera by Morgan Creative.

The film inaugurates Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society’s own YouTube channel, on which more content is expected over the next weeks and months. The film is part of an ongoing series promoting Thoor Ballylee, Kiltartan, Coole Park, Doorus House and The Flaggy Shore.

The film invites you, too, to return to Thoor Ballylee this spring, in the summer, sometime in the future, or just in imagination. Long live the returning spirit of WB Yeats and his family!

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society youtube channel

New year, new era at Thoor Ballylee

In this new year work is continuing apace at Thoor Ballylee on all kinds of projects poetical, digital, and practical..! Despite the inevitable challenges of these pandemic-hit times, it’s been an exciting few months on and off line, and we face the new year with new confidence as we look forward to welcoming back visitors in the spring.

Thoor Ballylee App

Yeats’s Norman tower has moved into the digital world with the help of local expert Stephen Forde who designed an app for Thoor Ballyee, so even when the doors are closed in winter time or during summer evenings guests can engage with the space. As part of the initiative QR codes have been placed on waterproof panels in suitable locations throughout the site providing an immersive experience for visitors mixing history, poetry and song.

Rena McAllen, new chair Anna O’Donnell, and Stephen Forde at the launch of Thoor App

As our own Rena McAllen explains:

We have put in place 10 ‘hotspots’ marked by QR code panels throughout the site at Thoor Ballylee, containing stories, pictures and audio files of Ger Conneely reading Yeats’s poetry. This technology, which is free for anyone to use will enable visitors using our interpretive app technology to learn more about the Nobel Poet Laureate and his time at Thoor Ballylee. All visitors need is the Great Visitor Experiences App available on App Store or Play Store.

New films about Galway and the Burren

With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, drawing on both their expertise and funding, and the work of some crack producers and content creators, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society helped produce a series of short films highlighting the importance of the tower and the Society’s work in “Spreading the News” about the literary connections of WB Yeats and beyond. Part of an ongoing series promoting Thoor Ballylee, Kiltartan, Coole Park, Doorus House and The Flaggy Shore – these films will hopefully entrance audiences near and far and help bring visitors to Thoor Ballylee and the many other important sites in our region. Look out for more soon.

Award-winning Thoor Ballylee

Thanks to the work of our helpers and wonderful participants, Thoor Ballylee’s Wild Child event for Heritage Week was awarded runner-up in our category in the National Heritage Week Awards 2021!

Site improvements

An attractive new sign, erected by The Burren Discovery Trail, awaits all who next visit Thoor Balllee! As part of the Burren Loop, Thoor Ballylee is an essential destination for visitors to South Galway.

.Work on the mill wheel continues, and we thank all involved in this very valuable work of restoration and reminder of local industries and culture. Eugene and PJ Murphy are supervising this difficult and authentic project with Stephen Burke sawmills cutting the raw oak into usable pieces.

With the help of local craftsmen, the cottage this year received a very welcome new thatch! (The poet’s son Michael remembered all sorts of creatures dropping slow from the thatch into his bed beneath).

Sr Mary de Lourdes Fahy, our celebrated author and historian, planted a rose bush in George’s walled garden at Thoor Ballylee, on 14 October to mark the recent closing of the Gort Mercy Convent and, after one hundred and fifty-four years, the end of an era.  

Our picnic to celebrate Yeats’s 13 June birthday brought admirers and readers new and old to Thoor Ballylee, and reminded us of the power of words (and food!).

ReJoyce: looking forward

We thank Marion Cox heartily for her wisdom and leadership, and welcome Anna O’Donnell as the new chair of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society committee, taking the helm in challenging but inspiring times.

With the one hundredth anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses on the author’s birthday 2 February 1922, this looks likely to be a year of much attention on Ireland’s literary greats. In the opening (‘Telemachus’) chapter Stephen Dedalus recalls singing his own setting of Yeats’s ‘Who Goes With Fergus’ to his dying mother (‘I sang it alone in the house, holding down the long dark chords. Her door was open: she wanted to hear my music’):

And no more turn aside and brood

On love’s bitter mystery

For Fergus rules the brazen cars […]

Remembering the losses and hardships so many have suffered in the last while, we look forward again to the coming of Fergus, and to welcoming visitors back to Yeats’s place of revolution and reverie in the spring.

27th Lady Gregory-Yeats Gathering – online!

The Lady Gregory-Yeats Autumn Gathering are delighted to invite you to the 27th edition of the Autumn Gathering.

7pm (Irish Time) Saturday 25 September 2021 (online)

This year’s gathering features a wealth of exciting speakers packed into a short programme. Plus it is available to all-comers anywhere in the world, as it is being celebrated online (see link below).

Lady Gregory 1893, pastel by Lisa Stillman

7pm (Irish Time) Saturday 25 September 2021 (online via Zoom)

Melissa Sihra, Head of Drama and Associate Professor School of Creative Arts, Trinity College Dublin, will Chair the Gathering.

Actor Úna Clancy will discuss her role as Lady Gregory and the creation of the recent Irish Repertory Theater production in New York, Lady G: Plays and Whisperings of Lady Gregorywith clips from the performance.

James Pethica (Professor of Theatre and English, Williams College), will preview his edition of Lady Gregory’s Shorter Writings 1882-1900, to be published later this year.

Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI Galway, will preview the 90th Anniversary of Lady Gregory in 2022 as well as remembering Gregory through the decades, from exhibitions to performance.

Christopher Frayling, Cultural Historian, will discuss John Ford and Lady Gregory. 

Time for Q&A, sip tea with a slice of brack in the comfort of your own living-room, and celebrate the magic of Coole Park! Ronnie and Marion and all the crew at the Autumn Gathering do hope you can join them.

The whole evening is now available online to view! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU90DuzD1uA

For more see the website of the Gregory Yeats Autumn Gathering, or please contact Marion Cox on monaleen@msn.com