Thoor Ballylee in The Irish Times

Thoor Ballylee features in Irish Times Open Season

William Butler Yeats’s tower at Thoor Ballylee features prominently in an Irish Times list of tourist attractions open this summer. The Hiberno-Norman icon features alongside such destinations as Skellig Michael, the Swiss Cottage Tipperary, and Lissadell Sligo, home of the Gore-Booth sisters and visited by Yeats as a young poet.  Visitors are advised that it was at Thoor Ballylee Yeats “penned some of his finest work” and that the tower and stream also featured in John Ford’s classic film The Quiet Man (1952).

It should be added that Thoor Ballylee is not yet quite open for the summer. However the sandbags guarding against possible flooding have long gone, and the tower and cottage are being tidied in readiness for 2017 opening, expected on May Day, Monday 1st May. We look forward to welcoming new visitors and old friends then. Also make sure to look out for our summer programme of cultural events.

Meanwhile you can follow here the other Irish Times suggestions for historic and scenic visits across Ireland. The Times assessment of Thoor Ballylee follows below.

Thoor Ballylee, Gort, Co Galway

The engraving onto the cut stone plaque on this 16th-century tower house states: “I, the poet William Yeats, with old mill boards and sea-green slates, and smithy work from the Gort forge, restored this tower for my wife George; and may these characters remain when all is ruin once again.” Yeats penned some of his finest work, from the Winding Stair and Other Poems to The Tower Poems, in the four-storey castle on the bend of a Co Galway road. it is now restored and open to visitors, who can discover the winding stair to the top floor or look out through the river-facing window in the chamber described by the Nobel Prize winner as the “pleasantest room I have yet seen”. Thoor Ballylee appeared in John Ford’s timeless The Quiet Man(1952).
Open: From 1 May every day until September 30th
Hours: 10am-6pm
Admission: €7 (concessions also apply)

Project Launch Press


The 2015 project launch by the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society features in the national press, including the Irish Times and the Sunday Business Post. Here is an article by Lorna Siggins in the Irish Times.

Irish Times










Read more…

Here is the text from a Sunday Business Post article (this link is behind a paywall):

Sunday Business Post

The Sunday Business Post article (this link is behind a paywall):

Bid to raise €1m for Yeats’ Galway tower
The Sunday Business Post | Sunday, February 08, 2015
Copyright 2015 Post Publications Ltd

A €1 million fundraiser has been launched to re-open WB Yeats’ tower, which has been closed for the past six years.The Nobel Prize-winning poet spent summers with his family in Thoor Ballylee outside Gort in Galway and was inspired to write some of his finest poetry there. But it has been closed to visitors since the ground floor was flooded in 2009 by the nearby river.

Now a new €1 million fundraising campaign has been launched to re-open the tower in time for the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth in June.

Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy-Eames said the funding was needed to rewire the tower, install a bathroom and hire staff. She said there were also plans to develop a cafe in the adjacent cottage and have a writer-in-residence.

“Our goal is that we would achieve the €1 million in two years and then we would have a viable entity that Galway County Council would take over,” she said.

Yeats bought the ruined 15th century Anglo-Norman tower in 1916 for £35 and had it refurbished by his friend, the architect William A Scott. He used it as a holiday home for his family during the summer. It inspired two of his key poetry collections, The Tower (1928), and The Winding Stair (1933), which was named after the stairs in the tower.

The tower is owned by the state, but the Office of Public Works has said that it does not have the funds to run it as a tourist attraction.

The local community group, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, has been given a licence to fundraise for the reopening of the tower. Due to the risk of flooding, it is planning to leave the first floor of the tower empty and put all facilities on the upper floors.

A spokeswoman for Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said she would welcome the re-opening of the tower.

“The department has informed Fáilte Ireland that it will provide any guidance or other advice which would help to facilitate the transfer of the monument to a suitable third party and inform its refurbishment so that visitor facilities would once again be available at the site,” she said.