Welcome to Thoor Ballylee, the Hiberno-Norman tower described by Seamus Heaney as the most important building in Ireland.
Thoor Ballylee is a fine and well-preserved fourteenth-century tower but its major significance is due to its close association with his fellow Nobel laureate for Literature, the poet W.B.Yeats. It was here the poet spent summers with his family and was inspired to write some of his finest poetry, making the tower his permanent symbol. Due to serious flood damage in the winter of 2009/10 the tower was closed for some years. A local group the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society has come together and are actively seeking funds to ensure its permanent restoration. Because of an ongoing fundraising effort and extensive repair and restoration work, the tower and associated cottages can be viewed year round, and thanks to our volunteers are open for the summer months, complete with a new Yeats Thoor Ballylee exhibition for visitors to enjoy.
Watch our video of Thoor Ballylee opening for the first time in many years for Yeats’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday on 13th June 2015. (If the embedded video does not work follow the youtube link to view the video on youtube.)
The Yeats Thoor Ballylee exhibition, with its lively panels and audio visual display, explores Yeats’s relationship with the people and places that most inspired his work. The exhibition, curated by Dr Adrian Paterson of NUI Galway, looks at the culture of the west, its crafts, stories, and songs; the central importance of the women in Yeats’s life, most especially of his wife George; his talented family and long history of artistic collaborations, and in particular his close connections with the landscapes and people of County Galway, with Coole Park and with Thoor Ballylee. Below is a slideshow from the opening with Sabina Coyne Higgins on 18th June 2016.
Below is Robert Gregory’s vision of the tower and environs, sketched before his death fighting in Italy in 1918. Restoration work is ongoing but with your help Thoor Ballylee is once again a cultural and educational centre for reverie and reflection for visitors from around the world. To find out how you can help follow this link.