Happy New Year from Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society would like to say extend warm greetings for the new year, and to say thank you for our the generosity and support of our volunteers and friends throughout 2016.


The doors of Thoor Ballylee were officially re-opened by actress Sabina Higgins in June with the unveiling of the new Yeats Thoor Ballylee Exhibition. The exhibition, curated by Dr Adrian Paterson, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, explores Yeats’s relationship with the people and places that most inspired his work. It looks at the culture of the west, its crafts, stories, and songs; the central importance of the women in his life, most especially of his wife George; and his close connections with the landscapes and people of County Galway, especially with Coole Park and with Thoor Ballylee. It also features exclusive material from Joseph Hassett’s inspiring Yeats and the Muses exhibition. Come down and have a look: the new exhibition will be available to view from the tower’s spring opening.

Yeats Tower Exhibition

This season Thoor Ballylee welcomed well over 3,000 visitors with the support of twenty local volunteers who guided and entertained visitors seven days a week. The Society was overwhelmed with the goodwill of supporters near and far throughout the year. US Senator Chris Dodd donated $10,000 towards the new exhibition in January. Donations have flooded in from friends near far helping fund the continual restoration and staffing of the tower. Our long standing benefactor Joe Hassett funded the publication of a magnificient book which tells the story of Thoor’s restoration in a collection of photographs taken by Deirdre Holmes. People like Anita Swanson who donated €1,500 to simply keep the Tower open has meant a great deal to us as we strive to keep the tower warm and welcoming. We also received a plethora of favourable testimonials and feedback.


Throughout the summer, Thoor Ballylee was home to many artistic and cultural performances, playing a full part in the 1916 celebrations. The season kicked off onJuly 16th with a performance of “Yeats’s Women” by Dublin trio: Glynis Casson, fellow actor Daniel Costello and renowned Irish Harpist Claire Roche. Featuring original letters, poems, stories, and song, the performance uncovered in a dramatic interweaving of life and art the artistic collaborations and personal crises which the poet W.B.Yeats experienced together with an extraordinary cast of striking and hugely talented women. This was followed by the Wild Swan Theatre Company’s production of “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya”, to a packed house on August.


A weekend long series events as part of the Yeats and Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering included a production by the Curlew Theatre Company:” History! Reading the Easter Rising” (above). Our annual Culture Night event took place in September with performances from Gaillimh Theas Comhaltas, Claire Egan and Eoin O’Neill, followed by a special screening of a film “Words Upon the Window Pane” based on the 1931 play by W.B. Yeats, in which Jonathan Swift visits a seance. To bring the busy season to a close, Galway poets and former Cuirt Grand Slam winners Elaine Feeney and Sarah Clancy MC-ed an extremely popular grand slam poetry competition in October.


It is your kindness as visitors, supporters, friends, volunteers and donors that have made this all possible – to find out how you can help further, follow this link.


As many of you know Thoor Ballylee is prone to flooding – indeed when in January Bob Geldof visited to film a documentary about Yeats he had to be taken by boat! However, work is complete on preparing the tower and cottages for the winter season. This means that the ground level of the tower has been entirely cleared of its exhibitions and all movable goods. Permanent electricity and heating systems were moved above flood height earlier this year. All is dry at present, and the forecast is promising! Our aim is to re-open the tower in spring. Please keep in touch and check out further updates on this our website www.yeatsthoorballylee.org.

Best wishes for the season,

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society


Thoor Ballylee to open with the help of generous donation

Thoor Ballylee, W.B. Yeats’s ancestral home in Gort, Co. Galway is to re-open in June after it was affected by the 2015 floods. Today, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is  delighted also to acknowledge a generous $10,000 donation from former US Senator Chris Dodd.

Dodd portrait color edited

Former US senator Chris Dodd

Senator Dodd’s donation arrived at an ideal time as it has given not only the necessary financial support but also an injection of energy and confidence to re-open Thoor Ballylee for another great cultural and educational season. Thoor Ballylee will officially re-open to the public for the June bank holiday weekend. On Saturday 18 of June, two new Thoor Ballylee exhibitions will be unveiled by another generous US benefactor Joseph Hassett.

Thoor Ballylee May 2016

Thoor Ballylee May 2016

As Thoor Ballylee, W.B. Yeats’s ancestral home in Co. Galway, prepares to re-open its doors to the public, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society acknowledges a generous $10,000 donation from former US Senator Chris Dodd. Without such generous support from Senator Dodd and the American Ireland Fund Thoor Ballylee would not be able to open its doors to the multitude of Yeats enthusiasts and tourists who visit it every year.

Since the tower re-opened last summer, 3,500 people from all over the world have visited Thoor Ballylee to experience at first hand Yeats’s source of inspiration, his family home and the beautiful landscape that stretches to Coole Park and on to the Burren. However, the tower was submerged in water after last winter’s widespread flooding, which affected many parts of the West of Ireland. The local committee had the foresight to strip the tower and recover its contents before the water rose. Thoor Ballylee is obviously a resilent structure and has withstood the floods. All is far from being in ‘ruin once again’! Many volunteers and local tradesmen have been busy restoring the tower to pristine condition. Senator Dodd’s donation ensures that Thoor Ballylee will open for another great cultural and educational season.

Thoor Ballylee will officially re-open to the public for the June bank holiday weekend. On Saturday 18th of June, two new Thoor exhibitions will be unveiled. Over the summer, a series of events will be organised that will honour Yeats’s memory, his heritage and his links with the literary revival and with 1916.

We rely on public and private funding to maintain this incredible project. All donations are welcome on https://yeatsthoorballylee.org/donate

More About Thoor Ballylee

Ireland’s Nobel Laureate for poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) spent his summers in Thoor Ballylee, where the landscape and spirit infused so much of his poetry. In 1928, Yeats published The Tower followed by The Winding Stair in 1933. Both collections were inspired by the life, landscape, and architecture of the place, and feature many poems set and composed at Thoor Ballylee.

In 2014, a local community group, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society leased Thoor Ballylee from Fáilte Ireland to develop it into a cultural centre. It was re-opened on June 13th 2015 in time for the Yeats 150th Anniversary. Though floods again affected Thoor in the winter of 2015-16, the Society is continuing to undertake a national and international fundraising effort to support the ambitious project. The tower will once again re-open in June 2016.