Yeats brothers lecture in Sligo

Nora Niland Lecture 2016

‘Horsemen for companions’: the Yeats brothers

Adrian Paterson, NUI Galway

7.30 Friday 10 June

The Model Sligo

Free event followed by wine and bites

8 Saint Colman

Dun Emer Industries: Banner for St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea (1903). Design by Jack B. Yeats, execution by Lily Yeats and workers of the Dun Emer.

‘Without contraries is no progression’, W.B. Yeats liked to repeat, following William Blake. Born to the most influential artistic family ever to come out of Ireland, the Yeats brothers, the poet W.B. and Jack B. the painter, are contrary characters and contrary artists, but share many things: a deep feeling for place, a delight in idiosyncracy, a gift for expression, and utter artistic seriousness. Thinking about them together sheds new light on both. Their lifelong connection survived disagreements political, artistic, familial, and temperamental, and produced a fascinating series of artistic collaborations from early days around kitchen table with their talented sisters, through a fascination with Irish stories and characters, to the later, magnificent series of Broadsides. It is sometimes forgotten that Jack B.Yeats was also a writer, while his brother started life as a visual artist, while the interest of both in theatre and in song never wavered. Alongside its A Broadside exhibition which features Jack B. Yeats’s prints and ballads, and a new display of the irreplaceable Niland Collection, The Model Sligo hosts the 2016 inaugural Nora Niland Lecture exploring their artistic connections and collaborations.

Dr Adrian Paterson is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway. A graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, and Trinity College, Dublin, he is the author of the forthcoming Words for Music: W.B. Yeats and Musical Sense and the curator of Yeats & the West, an exhibition hosted by the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, The Model, Sligo, and shortly to open at Thoor Ballylee. A member of the steering group for Yeats2015, he has published widely on nineteenth and twentieth century art and literature with a particular interest in the artistic interactions of modernism and the fin-de-siècle.

About Nora Niland 

Inaugural Nora Niland Lecture 2016

For the first time Nora Niland will be publicly honoured at a special event which will take place during the Yeats Day celebrations this year.  Born in 1913 in the townland of Ballinastak near Tuam, Co Galway, Nora was a graduate of English and Irish literature from NUI Galway.

She moved to Sligo in 1945 where she took up the position of Sligo County Librarian. It was then that she began to draw greater attention to the links between Sligo and the influential Yeats family.  In 1959 Nora borrowed five paintings by Jack Butler Yeats to exhibit for the first Yeats Summer School. During the exhibition, Niland began to feel that the paintings should remain in Sligo and so she set about raising the £3,000 needed to purchase them in the hope of establishing a public art collection for the county. Two years later her determination paid off, and The Niland Collection was born.

Through her efforts Sligo Corporation acquired significant holdings of material relating to the Yeats family and it is now one of Ireland’s most substantial public art collections.  The Jack B. Yeats paintings were then housed, together with other Yeats family material and artworks, in a special room in Sligo County Library.

Paintings by the Yeats family feature prominently in the Niland collection with almost fifty works by Jack B. Yeats, nineteen portraits by his father John Butler Yeats, as well as works by Jack’s wife Mary Cottenham Yeats, and his sister Elizabeth Yeats.  The collection has an emphasis on the northwest of Ireland and features many artists who are linked to the area including Patrick Collins, Sean McSweeney, Patrick Hall and Nick Miller.mIt also features pieces of work by Norah McGuinness, Mary Swanzy, Sean Keating, Gerard Dillon, Paul Henry and Louis le Brocquy.

In 2002 a further 30 works of Irish art were generously lent on a long-term basis by the collector Jobst Graeve. The Niland Collection has now grown to over 300 works and is cared for by, and displayed at, The Model Niland Gallery on the Mall in Sligo.
Nora Niland never married and when she retired she returned to live in her native Ballinastack.  She died in 1988 and sadly failed to get to see her dreams of a gallery to house her pictures come to fruition.

To celebrate her contribution in creating this prestigious art collection for Sligo, The Inaugural Nora Niland Lecture in association with NUIG, will take place on Friday, June 10th at 7.30pm in the Model Niland Gallery.  It will be presented by Dr Adrian Paterson, a lecturer in English at NUI Galway and a member of the Yeats2015 committee.

He will be joined by renowned Jack B. Yeats scholar Dr Hilary Pyle at a special Yeats Salon from 9.30pm.

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

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.


Talk at Yeats & the West: The Theatre of Jack B. Yeats

A Vaudeville of Frustration: The Theatre of Jack B. Yeats

Public Talk


Dr Ian Walsh, NUI Galway

6pm Thursday 5 May

The Model Theatre, Sligo

La La Noo (2)

Alongside The Model’s Niland collection, and the exhibitions Yeats & the West and A Broadside this talk uncovers the rarely-read and even more rarely-performed plays of Jack B. Yeats, Ireland’s greatest painter. Beginning with children’s miniature theatre productions, voiced and written by the artist and for which he drew and designed stage, set, and characters with piratical cast, Jack B. Yeats always aimed athwart at conventional theatre. He developed an idiosyncratic theatrical voice that was both distinctive, and distinctively modernist, not quite like anything ever seen or heard in or out of the theatre. Despite Jack Yeats’s earlier close association with J.M.Synge, plays that were not accepted by his brother’s Abbey Theatre found a further life alongside his brother’s at Mary O’Malley’s Lyric Theatre Belfast. From Harlequin’s Positions and In Sand to The Green Wave and La La Noo, Jack Yeats’s drama engages directly with his artistic practice, often referencing his paintings and broadsides, and directly influenced Beckett’s absurdist dramaturgy.

Lyric Yeats brothers copy

Ian Walsh is Lecturer in Drama, Theatre, and Performance at NUI Galway. His monograph Experimental Irish Theatre After W.B Yeats was published in 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan. In 2015 his collection The Theatre of Enda Walsh co-edited with Mary Caulfield was released, the first critical collection on the plays and films of Enda Walsh. He has published widely on Irish theatre and has given invited talks across Ireland, Germany and the United States. Ian is also preparing a monograph on Popular Irish Theatre. Professional directing credits include Purple Path to the Poppy Field ( Hora Prima, 2006) and The Magic Flute (2011), Orfeo Ed Eurydice (2010), Riders to the Sea and The Wandering Scholar (2009) all for DLR Glasthule Opera.


Ian Walsh appears in conversation with the curator of Yeats & the West, and Archivist in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, Barry Houlihan.

Dr Adrian Paterson, NUI Galway, and curator of the exhibition, Donal Tinney, Chairperson of The Model, John Cox, NUIG, and Barry Houlihan, NUIG, at the NUI Galway Launch of Yeats & the West Exhibition at The Model, Sligo. Photo: James Connolly 24MAR16

Dr Adrian Paterson, NUI Galway, and curator of the exhibition, Donal Tinney, Chairperson of The Model, John Cox, NUIG, and Barry Houlihan, NUIG, at the NUI Galway Launch of Yeats & the West Exhibition at The Model, Sligo.
Photo: James Connolly

Yeats and the West logo

Yeats & the West Exhibition Tours & Talks

Curators Tours 1pm. Public Talks 6pm.

Free entry

 The Model, Sligo

Tours Thursday at 1pm

Tours of the exhibition from the curators take place every Thursday at 1pm.  Find out what makes art and poetry so close, and observe the connection of books, and music, drama, and discover never before seen rare books and fine art from the collections of NUI Galway and The Model. Come and get an inside view of the crafts and cultures that made a western revolution.

Emer McGarry, Acting Director, The Model, Cllr. Thomas Healy, Dr Jim Browne , President of NUI Galway, Martin Enright, President of Yeats Society, Sligo, Dr Adrian Paterson, NUI Galway, and curator of the exhibition, Senator Susan O'Keeffe, Ciaran Hayes, Sligo County Manager, Barry Houlihan, NUIG, Donal Tinney, Chairperson of The Model, and John Cox, NUIG, at the NUI Galway Launch of Yeats & the West Exhibition at The Model, Sligo. Photo: James Connolly 24MAR16

Emer McGarry, Acting Director, The Model, Cllr. Thomas Healy, Dr Jim Browne , President of NUI Galway, Martin Enright, President of Yeats Society, Sligo, Dr Adrian Paterson, NUI Galway, and curator of the exhibition, Senator Susan O’Keeffe, Ciaran Hayes, Sligo County Manager, Barry Houlihan, NUIG, Donal Tinney, Chairperson of The Model, and John Cox, NUIG, at the NUI Galway Launch of Yeats & the West Exhibition at The Model, Sligo.
Photo: James Connolly

Talks Thursdays at 6pm

This series of talks on Yeats’s connection to the west and beyond takes us inside the makings of a western cultural revolution. Talks from experts in the field range from exploring the pioneering art and craftwork of the Yeats family to W.B.Yeats’s own life and loves, considering his some of his most controversial and sexy poems; they reveal the extraordinary plays of his brother, the artist Jack B. Yeats, and alongside the Model Gallery’s newly unveiled Broadside collection, showcase his design and print work; and they weigh the wider forces that turned a cultural revolution into a real one.

Speakers include the curators of the exhibition Dr Adrian Paterson and Barry Houlihan (NUI Galway), Professor Adrian Frazier (NUI Galway), Professor Margaret Mills Harper (University of Limerick and outgoing Director of the Yeats International Summer School), Dr Hilary Pyle (former Yeats Curator at National Gallery of Ireland), Dr Ian Walsh (NUI Galway), Dr Mary Harris (NUI Galway).

Yeats and the West logo

All talks take place every Thursday at 6pm in the Model Theatre.

7 April – ‘Lake Isles, River Eyots: making Innisfree with the Yeats family’

Adrian Paterson, English, NUI Galway

14 April – ‘A Disturbing Influence: Maud Gonne in the life of W.B. Yeats’

Adrian Frazier, English, NUI Galway

21 April – ‘Jack B. Yeats’s A Broadside: a sheaf of ballads or a battery of guns?’

Hilary Pyle, former Yeats Curator at the National Gallery of Ireland

28 April – ‘W.B. Yeats and the Problem of Crazy Jane’

Margaret Mills Harper, University of Limerick, & outgoing Director of the Yeats International Summer School

5 May – ‘A Vaudeville of Frustration: The Theatre of Jack B. Yeats’.

Ian Walsh, Centre for Drama Theatre and Performance, NUI Galway

12 May – ‘Romanticism and Realism: Pearse, MacNeill, the Revival and the Rising’

Mary Harris, History, NUI Galway

For schools events Thursdays  enquire

The Model opening hours

Tues-Sat: 10am – 5.30pm

Thurs: 10am – 8pm

Sun: 12 – 5pm

Mon: Closed

Yeats and the West logo

Yeats & the West: new NUI Galway exhibition

Wall Vinyl 1 B (1)

William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature always looked west. As part of Ireland ’s decade of commemorations and the worldwide Yeats2015 series of cultural events marking his 150th birthday, NUI Galway’s Moore Institute and Hardiman Library presents Yeats & the West, a collaborative exhibition exploring Yeats’s life, work, and legacy, and his deep connections to the west. Yeats & the West considers what the west meant to him, and what that means for us. For fuller information, visit the website. 

4plays dancers

For Yeats the west was the wellspring of songs, stories, folklore, artwork, drama, crafts; the foundation of the Irish imagination. It was also the landscape of his poetry and plays. Significant events of his life took place there; collaborations that formed his work were forged there. Yeats & the West tells this remarkable story.

8 Saint Colman

This interactive exhibition features original watercolour sketches and oils by W.B.Yeats’s brother, the celebrated artist Jack Yeats, priceless Cuala Press volumes and broadsides, a wealth of visual material from artists and photographers from Fergus Bourke to Nicolas Fève, and rarely seen images and manuscripts from archive collections in NUI Galway and around the world. Through rare books, original documents, and artworks, and using modern touchscreens, recorded sound, and exclusive film, visitors take a tour of Yeats’s commitment to history, tradition, and new art, all under western eyes. Talks and special events feature throughout the exhibition’s spectacular run from June to December 2015.

Yeats and the West logo

June – December 2015

Hardiman Research Building

NUI Galway

Free admission

Open 9-5 Mon – Sat. (9-5 Mon-Fri until 20 July)

Yeats & the West tells the story of the places and people that made a western cultural revolution.

Wall Vinyl 2

On display is W.B.Yeats’s attention to life, love, and landscape in Galway, Sligo, and beyond. Yeats & the West details the many artistic collaborations that centred on Coole Park, Galway between artists of the western world. It follows the foundation of the Abbey Theatre in Galway, and Yeats’s work with J.M.Synge, George Moore and Edward Martyn, using exclusive materials from the Lady Gregory Collection, the Abbey Digital Archive, and the Lyric Theatre Belfast. It explores his obsession with local poet Antoine Ó Raifteiri, and highlights the gifted artists of Yeats’s own family, whose pioneering work is showcased in exquisite handprinted books and in embroidery from Loughrea cathedral.

Panel 2 C

Yeats’s restoration of Thoor Ballylee, Galway, is seen alongside the construction of his own poetry, and the effects of revolution and civil war on his work and the west is put starkly on view with manuscripts from the National Library of Ireland, and rare books and photographs. Collaborations with his artist brother Jack Yeats are illustrated with newly exhibited sketches and exquisite colour prints. Yeats & the West even tracks his furthest forays west, following him and the Abbey players as they cross the Atlantic and bring back with them a renewed idea of the breadth of the western world.

Panel 7C

Through images, words, film, and sound, with interactive touchscreens, panels, and rich display cases, using valuable material from the university’s collections and from around the world, Yeats & the West tells anew an old story: a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are.

The exhibition runs from June to December 2015 in the Hardiman Building, NUI Galway with special events throughout.

With special thanks to the Moore Institute, Hardiman Library, NUI Galway’s President’s Office, Galway City Museum, the National Library of Ireland, Loughrea Cathedral, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, and Yeats2015.

Window visualisation