February sees the launch of a major project to restore Thoor Ballylee and create a world class culture and education centre in time for the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.B.Yeats in June, and the Yeats2015 worldwide programme of cultural events.
The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society will launch the project on Friday February 6 in the Lady Gregory Hotel, Gort, at 8pm. A fundraising objective of €1 million has been set for the project. Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, the chair of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society believes the proposed centre could become “a huge attraction for the area”, in turn boosting tourism revenues for the south Galway region. The Minister of State for Tourism Michael Ring granted a licence which allows the group to start fundraising to secure the money needed to re-open the tower and the committee is actively promoting the project among local, national, and international business and philanthropic bodies to achieve the €1 million needed. Senator Healy-Eames said the funds will be used to develop and market the centre and meet essential capital and running costs. The tower will accommodate a new exhibition, a café, bookshop, and space for exhibitions, lectures, and classes. The surrounding gardens and trail to the old mill will also be developed. The fourteenth-century Norman tower is intimately associated with W.B.Yeats who owned and lived in the tower with his family between 1921 and 1929. It was also during this period that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.