Thoor Ballylee heads calls for flood relief

As Thoor Ballylee closes for the winter, representatives repeat calls for state intervention on flood relief for South Galway.

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, a community group in south Galway which runs W.B. Yeats’s former retreat at Thoor Ballylee, has appealed for State support for the area as it anticipates fresh flooding this winter, the Irish Times has reported.

Speaking before a fundraising poetry slam event at the tower this weekend, curator Rena McAllen said flooding at the tower last winter did not recede until March.

Ms McAllen is part of a community group that acquired a lease for Thoor Ballylee – a 15th century Hiberno-Norman tower house with what Yeats described as a “winding, gyring spiring treadmill of a stair”– after it was closed by Fáilte Ireland due to flooding in 2009.

During Yeats’ tenure, the Streamstown river would food the building’s ground floor, but the flooding is now more frequent and much higher.

See more in the Irish Times report here.

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is pleased to report that there is no immediate risk of of flooding to the tower and cottages. However the water table in the area is very high, and if rain comes then further flooding is in prospect again this winter.

Thankfully work has been completed on preparing the tower and cottages for the winter. This means that at ground level it has been entirely clear of its exhibitions and all movable goods. Permanent electricity and heating systems were moved above flood height earlier this year.

It is good news that all is dry at present.

Still, with flooding increasing year on year, better solutions might be found to relieve the annual uncertainty and the very real cost to livelihoods in the area.

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Thoor Ballylee October 2016

Thoor Ballylee reopening in June

We are delighted to announce that Thoor Ballylee will be opening again in June 2016. After being affected by winter flooding, the tower remains sound, and work has begun cleaning and refitting the tower ready for the summer. Thank you for your support so far! We’ve a way to go, so here’s how you can help further.

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As you can see, the water is abated, and the exterior of the tower is unaffected. This is the view before recent jet cleaning. Flooding has been affecting the local area, but we’re happy to report things are improving.

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Yeats always imagined his tower as in tune with the seasons, and the engraving of his poem shows some of the high water marks over the winter.

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We’re very pleased to say that all is far from being in ‘ruin once again’! Work is ongoing to restore the tower to its pristine condition, and a full set of exhibitions and events planned.

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The doors of Thoor Ballylee officially re-opened on the occasion of W.B. Yeats’s 150th birthday on June 13th, 2015, after being closed for many years.  Donations from local business people, artisans, and artists generated much needed funding to cover operational costs. To find out how you can help, click here.

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Accounts of many of last years events can be viewed in our blog.

Thoor Ballylee has been affected by winter flooding near Gort and South County Galway but we are glad to report that it is structurally sound, and being readied for reopening. The Society had a good flood action plan in place, all electrical fittings were refitted to ceiling height in recent years and the contents of the tower were removed at the end of October. As the weather improves jet cleaning has taken place and Thoor Ballylee is starting to look like her old self. There’s still job to be done, and continued support and volunteers for this vital, but the tower’s planned summer opening in June 2016 will not be affected.

Flooding before Christmas near Thoor Ballylee

Flooding before Christmas near Thoor Ballylee

There is more to do, and many more events and exhibitions planned for this year, itself representing an important anniversary of the Easter Rising, events remembered  in Yeats’s poem ‘Easter 1916’.

To find out more, how to visit, or how you can help look around our website at yeatsthoorballylee.org, and sign up for regular updates.  We still need your support to keep the tower open for future generations: to find out how you can help, click here.

You can email us on yeatsthoorballylee@gmail.com and you can like us and stay abreast on our facebook page. Do please keep in touch!

We would like to say a big thank you to all our friends, supporters, volunteers, and visitors for their generosity and support. This coming year will feature a new programme of events, new challenges, and new excitements.

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society Volunteers 2015

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society Volunteers 2015

Some testimonials from our 2015 visitors book:
“A very enjoyable visit and thanks for a warm welcome and the spirit of Yeats”
“I now see where Yeats drew his inspiration from  for “haunting, beautiful”! Keep up the good work, great tour and guiding”
“Amazing gem, absolutely stunning and definitely well worth a visit”
“A life long dream for me to visit here”
“Great to visit and the video is really good”
“Very lovely view for the top, great peace here”
“A treasure. Beautiful place and space, art, hospitality and Irish spirit, go raibh maith agat W.B.Yeats!”

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Thoor Ballylee flooding will not delay reopening

Thoor Ballylee has been affected by recent flooding, but is structurally sound and will be opening as scheduled again in the spring, representatives from the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society have confirmed this weekend.

Over the weekend Storm Desmond hit the west coast of Ireland with considerable force, winds gusting at over 70 miles per hour (118 kph), causing power outages and bringing with it severely heavy rainfall. With the coastline battered by stormy weather, standing water appeared on many roads, and rivers and streams across County Galway are running unusually high. Streamstown River, which passes Yeats’s tower at its foot, burst its banks and water flowed down the road. Members of Yeats Thoor Ballylee were quickly on the scene to inspect the situation.

However the tower has suffered no long-term damage, and will open as scheduled in the spring, say representatives from the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, who opened the tower for the first time in many years this summer. Having stood for six hundred years, the tower has been repeatedly surveyed and found to be structurally sound, even in the event of flooding, not uncommon in this part of the county. It had already been cleared out ready for winter, and no long-term damage to goods or interior is expected. A flood action plan ensures that, while there is a considerable clearing-out job to be done, and continued support and volunteers for this vital, there is every expectation that the tower’s planned spring opening will not be affected.

As Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames pointed out, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society took on the tower in the expectation that flooding might occur. ‘That has always been part of our plans’, she confirmed today. ‘We chose to proceed on that basis and made our decisions regarding refurbishment and remountable [installations] accordingly.’

‘Yes, the tower will be open for business in the Spring’, confirmed Councillor Joe Byrne. ‘There’s a job to do, but it confirms the necessity of all the work we’ve been doing to raise electrics and services above flood levels.’

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is a voluntary organization who have taken on the running of Yeats’s tower using local resources and local volunteers. Thoor Ballylee opened for the first time in many years for Yeats2015, and hosted a number of cultural events, climaxing in the Harp and Moon Festival with Caitriona Yeats, granddaughter of the Nobel Prize-winning poet.  There is a full programme of events in the pipeline for next year, and a long-term plan for its permanent restoration and re-opening. Thoor Ballylee relies on external donations to fund its work with what Seamus Heaney called ‘the most important public building in Ireland.’ To find out how you can help, follow this link.

Rising flood waters at Thoor Ballylee on Friday night

Rising flood waters at Thoor Ballylee on Friday night