Still singing: folksinger and friend of Thoor Mary McPartlan dies

Yesterday we heard the sad news of the death of Mary McPartlan. Leitrim-born McPartlan was a singer, actor, director, promotor and well-known cultural activist for music and the arts in Galway and nationally. She was also a force of nature: despite spending significant energy over a number of years battling with cancer, she always came back stronger, full of new ideas and collaborations; and still singing.

Throughout a varied career, Mary McPartlan worked with Druid theatre, TG4, and RTÉ, as well as helping to found Galway theatre company Skehana, the Galway singers club Riabhóg, the Galway Youth Theatre and Glór, the national Irish music centre in Ennis. With TG4 she founded the thriving Gradam Ceoil National Traditional Music Awards and produced and presented the music show FLOSC.

Working at the National University of Ireland Galway she set up Arts in Action sparking new art projects and bringing together artists, musicians, actors, writers and performers from around the world. Even in these restricted times the series continues to find an audience online.

Her first love though was music. She founded folk duo Calypso in the 1970s, and more recently she received a Fulbright award for her work collecting and editing folksong from Ireland and Scotland to America and beyond. Her debut album The Holland Handkerchief (2004) was heralded as folk album of the year by MOJO Magazine, follow-up Petticoat Loose (2008) featured more of her award-winning solo singing, and she continued to record and tour.

As a longstanding friend of Thoor Ballylee she took a leading role in the last concert held here in October 2019.

Mary McP

As tributes came in from around the world, from RTÉ, Breakingnews.ie and the Irish Times, President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins released a statement:

“It is with deep sadness that Sabina and I have heard of the death of a dear friend, Mary McPartlan, musical director, broadcaster, and one of Ireland’s great folk singers.

She leaves a legacy of achievement for the arts that will endure. […]

Her invocation of place, history and feeling was unique. Sabina and I were among the many who were privileged to call her our friend, and we will all miss her so much.

For myself, I will always hold wonderful memories of being on tour with her and of her singing her tribute to Victor Jara at those five gigs we did together in 2011 in Leitrim, Donegal, Wicklow and Kerry; the wonderful company she was; and later I often admired how brave she was, indomitable, transcending loss and adversity with a nobility of heart and a powerful reach of humanity that was of course always there in her singing and in her life.”

Mary McParlan is featured in many fine performances and live recordings, too many to name here. Her solo version of ‘Lord Gregory’ (also known as ‘The Lass of Aughrim’) from The Holland Handkerchief expresses the strange grief that so inspired James Joyce’s story ‘The Dead’, where a rendition of the song ‘in the old Irish tonality’, ‘made plaintive by distance’ reminds Gretta Conroy of her Galway youth and precipitates the story’s climax.

Mary McPartlan is survived by her husband, Paddy, and daughters Mairéad and Meabh. All at Thoor Ballylee remember well her courage, vivacity and spirit, which continues wherever music is played in Galway.

 

Thoor Ballylee year in review

The last year represents one of our most successful years ever here at Yeats’s Tower. The opening of the Studio at Thoor Ballylee represented 2019’s biggest achievement, and one that will keep giving for many years to come. With generous support, we completed in double-quick time the conversion of the Yeats family’s old garage into a new vibrant space for workshops, events, education, art, and community, further enriching this place full of poetry and creativity.

By October 2019, when the curtain came down on our fifth season open at Thoor Ballylee, an estimated 4, 580 visitors had come and experienced the magic of Yeats’s tower. With your help we hope 2020 can be even better! Your continuing support is much appreciated.

The season at Thoor Ballylee opened on Easter Saturday in late April, with spring springing and with tea and Easter Bunny cake kindly provided by our generous and longest serving volunteer, Tonii. This was just the warm up for our regular readings and celebrations for Yeats’s birthday party, held every year (with cake!) on or around 13 June.

‘Sailing to Byzantium’

Launching the Studio at Thoor Ballylee was our first major event of the season.  Guest of honour and speaker of a fine welcoming address was the inimitable Sabina Higgins. Spoken poetry came from poet Mary O Malloy, and was followed by a  fluid rendition of ‘The Salley Gardens’ by soprano, Helen Hancock. Doing the honours of the official opening in cutting the ribbon was our very own esteemed author and educator Sr Mary de Lourdes Fahy.

The exhibition, assembled from materials from our own and NUI Galway’s archives, featured women artists like Elizabeth Rivers and especially the work of Elizabeth and Lily Yeats, in arts and crafts, printing and embroidery, after whom the studio is dedicated. Pride of place went to exquisite embroidered banners designed and made by the Yeats family and female workforce at Dun Emer workshop, rarely seen outside their home St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea, woven under the direction of Lily Yeats and featuring saints designed by Jack B. Yeats and his wife Mary Cottenham Yeats. Presiding over the studio space and presenting an expert weaving demonstration was Kathy Mooney. Later in the year the Studio at Thoor Ballylee was the venue for a day of spinning and weaving, now becoming a very popular annual event.

Elizabeth Rivers, from Stranger in Aran, Cuala Press (1946)

So already the Studio at Thoor Ballylee has been put to good use. Local artist, Cindy Lund, came to reside in there  for a week, creating some amazing original work, attracting other artists, giving local children an opportunity to draw in Yeats’s garage, while generating great interest in Thoor.

The studio was also the venue for weekly evening classes with Jackie Quelly, a lecture on Maud Gonne’s Men, by Anthony J. Jordan, an embroidery workshop with Sandra from Sacra King Irish Fibre Crafters and an exhibition and various artistic activities by the wonderful Kinvara Sanctuary group. Later as part of the Yeats Lady Gregory Autumn gathering Marina Carr came to give an expert playwrighting workshop here.

Marion Cox in conversation with Marina Carr

We are indeed indebted to Denis Creaven, from the Institute of Education, who has faithfully, year after year, given his two day mid-term lectures to Leaving Cert students, free gratis, with all proceeds going to Thoor Ballylee.

The mill by the river, on a sunny summer’s day in June, was the setting for a joint recital by Coole Music and an incredible youth orchestra from Norway, conducted by Katherina Baker. Two weeks later we were treated to an afternoon of medieval music by the junior members of Coole Music, fittingly attired in medieval costumes, performing in our medieval tower house.

To mark Heritage week, field archaeologist Dr Christy Cunniffe gave a talk and presentation on vernacular houses. Anna O Donnell gave an fascinating demonstration on the story of butter and butter making while soprano Helen Hancock delighted us with an evening of opera and the story of song. On Culture Night two rare performances occurred at Thoor of Yeats’s and Augusta Gregory’s The Pot of Broth  by a pioneering local theatre group. This was followed by Anna O Donnell‘s own broth tasting, and with Lelia Doolan’s insights into the family life of the Yeatses, audiences went away fully satisfied.

In September we were, once again, honoured to host The Lady Gregory and Yeats Autumn Gathering, and the studio and tower was the host for important sessions on women’s writing and creativity. As noted, internationally renowned playwright Marina Carr with Head of Drama at Trinity College, Dublin, Melissa Sihra, conducted a workshop for playwrights in the studio. Film producer Lelia Doolan gave an enlightening lecture on the actress and artistic director Ria Mooney and the Abbey Theatre, while the local Wild Swan Theatre group brought the weekend to a close with their premiere production of a new play, Lady Gregory’s Ingredients.

World renowned storyteller, Martin Shaw (Cista Mystica) chose Thoor Ballylee as the Irish venue for his sold-out story telling workshop and evening performance. This event attracted participants from as far afield as Germany and New Zealand, and proved a most successful event in terms of enjoyment and publicity. A film made by Grant Thompson around the event with Martin Shaw at Thoor Ballylee discussing Yeats  was featured on social media and widely viewed.

Thoor Ballylee ended the year as it began as a hub for the arts and for community: the many musical events in the series included expert local group The Burren Bandits while Máirtín O Connor, Garry O Brien and singer Mary McPartlan brought another busy season to a close.

Thoor Ballylee would like to give thanks for the generosity of our amazing 2019 volunteers: Rosemary, Rose, Tonii, Karen, Liam, Gus, Pat O Looney, Pat Farrell.For their never-ending help, our Tús members: Khrystof , Dominic, Joe, and Frank (CE scheme).  To JJ and family members for manning the car park, controlling the traffic, lighting our way in the dark and helping where needed. And to our never-failing staff  Eoghan MacDonagh and the dedicated Nichola.

All this hard work, dedication, and passion for W.B. Yeats, for Thoor Ballylee, and for the arts and Galway culture, was fittingly rewarded in when we were awarded the prestigious Cathaoirleach’s (Mayor’s) Award for Arts and Culture 2019.

Marion Cox, Rena McAllen, Colm Farrell, Anna O Donnell, Lelia Doolan of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society

All this, and we couldn’t have done it all without you!  Despite our recent success in winning a competitive Government of Ireland grant to help open the studio, we rely entirely on volunteers and private donations to keep going, and making sure Yeats’s legacy is preserved and open for worldwide visitors and new generations. Please come and visit us in the new season, and if you can become a friend or donate to our fund!

Grand Season Closing Concert

Come and celebrate our 2019 season with a grand Yeatsian evening of poetry, music, song, and stories.

And enjoy of course the warm hospitality of our Thoor hosts, and the chance to ascend the tower one last time in 2019.

Grand Season Closing Concert at Thoor Ballylee

Máirtín O’Connor and Garry O’Briain
with
Mary McPartlan

A grand Yeatsian evening of music, song, & stories featuring box, guitar, and singing

Saturday 19th October 8pm
Tickets 15 euro
Call 0858620935 or email
yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.com

 

Autumn Season at Thoor

Music, culture, and storytelling comes to Thoor Ballylee for our summer and autumn season (with one unexpected closure for Sunday 25th August only to announce). Join us and donate, come to our events, or just visit anytime until the middle of October!

8pm Saturday 24th August The Art of Song Heritage week at Thoor Ballylee comes to a climax featuring the singing and playing of Helen Hancock and Mark Keane.

(NB Sunday 25th August Thoor Ballylee CLOSED as surrounding roads shut down for Galway Rally Race).

8pm Friday 30th August The Burren Bandits at Thoor Ballylee play guitar for the Gort River Walk.

Friday 27th – Sunday 29th September Lady Gregory Yeats Autumn Gathering comes to Galway, with events at Thoor Ballylee on the morning Sunday 29th September.

Saturday 5th October our Storytelling Workshop returns to Thoor Ballylee (details to follow).

Saturday 19th October Máirtín O Connor and friends close the season. Come along and join us for our traditional festive closure!

Further details on selected events below:

After Folk & Farm with Christy Cuniffe, The Story of Butter with Anna O’Donnell, Heritage week at Thoor Ballylee comes to a climax 8pm on Saturday 24th August featuring music, The Art of Song with Helen Hancock and Mark Keane.

The Art of Song

with Helen Hancock & Mark Keane

8pm Saturday 24 August

Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway

€10/€5 admission

As part of Heritage week Oranmore soprano Helen Hancock presents a beautiful evening programme of singing and music, The Art of Song, at Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee. The concert also features pianist and accompanist Mark Keane. Helen, in her 5th year of vocal studies with international tenor Owen Gilhooly has just returned from Abingdon Summer School for Solo Singers in the UK and is very enthusiastic about the recital. “I love singing with Mark Keane and Thoor Ballylee is a gorgeous intimate performance space […]. I always enjoy explaining the background to the songs and arias which brings them to life for the audience”. The programme is a varied one with lots of takes on life and love – which W.B. Yeats memorably called “the supreme theme of art and song”. It features music from all classical genres – baroque, opera, art song, lieder and musical theatre. Admission is €10  for adults and €5 for children and tickets are available in advance, or on the door on the night. Refreshments are available at the interval.

 

8pm Friday 30th August The Burren Bandits at Thoor Ballylee sing and play guitar for the Gort River Walk.


 

27th-29th September Lady Gregory and Yeats Autumn Gathering comes to Gort with speakers including Marina Carr, Nicholas Grene, and Lucy McDiarmuid. Sunday 29th September at Thoor Ballylee from 10.30 with Lelia Doolan and Cecily O’Neill talking about women playwrights. More details at the Gathering’s new website!


Saturday 5th October our Storytelling Workshop returns to Thoor Ballylee (details to follow).

Saturday 19th October Máirtín O Connor and friends close the season. Come along and join us for our traditional festive closure!

Join us and donate, come to our events, or just visit anytime until the middle of October!


For more information about these events or any others at Thoor Ballylee contact 091 631436 yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.com

 

Heritage week at Thoor Ballylee

Heritage week comes to Thoor Ballylee 17th – 25th August featuring fun, education, and cultural events for all the family.

Folk & Farm

with Christy Cuniffe

2-4pm Saturday 17 August

The Studio at Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway

Free admission

A short but informative talk by Dr Christy Cunniffe, archaeologist, in The Studio at Thoor Ballylee. The talk explores old farming techniques from the local area and is followed by a guided walk to the mill by the river.

The Story of Butter

with Anna O’Donnell

2pm Wednesday 21 August

Local food historian Anna O’Donnell takes us through the story of butter in the Studio at Thoor Ballylee with a talk and demonstration in keeping with the week’s agricultural theme. Butter has an interesting cultural history – and freshly made is even tastier than you think!

The Art of Song

with Helen Hancock & Mark Keane

8pm Saturday 24 August

Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway

€10/€5 admission

As part of Heritage week Oranmore soprano Helen Hancock presents a beautiful evening programme of singing and music, The Art of Song, at Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee. The concert also features pianist and accompanist Mark Keane. Helen, in her 5th year of vocal studies with international tenor Owen Gilhooly has just returned from Abingdon Summer School for Solo Singers in the UK and is very enthusiastic about the recital. “I love singing with Mark Keane and Thoor Ballylee is a gorgeous intimate performance space […]. I always enjoy explaining the background to the songs and arias which brings them to life for the audience”. The programme is a varied one with lots of takes on life and love – which W.B. Yeats memorably called “the supreme theme of art and song”. It features music from all classical genres – baroque, opera, art song, lieder and musical theatre. Admission is €10  for adults and €5 for children and tickets are available in advance, or on the door on the night. Refreshments are available at the interval.

For more information about these events or any others at Thoor Ballylee contact 091 631436 yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.com

 

Invitation to Studio opening

The Studio at Thoor Ballylee

A new space for making and thinking

You are warmly invited to the opening of The Studio at Thoor Ballylee.

 Sunday 28th April 2019 at 3pm

Studio opened by Sister Mary deLourdes Fahy, local historian.

Special Guest Mrs Sabina Higgins.

Featuring Kathy Mooney, weaver; Áine Ní Shioradáin, harpist, Mary O’Malley, poet.

With an exhibition of artwork and craft by Lily and Elizabeth Yeats, with work by Jack B. Yeats, John Butler Yeats, and W.B. Yeats.

Elizabeth Rivers, from Stranger in Aran, Cuala Press (1946)

The new studio, intended as a meeting and workplace for today’s artists and craftworkers, honours Lily and Elizabeth Yeats, their creation of the Dun Emer Guild and Cuala Industries.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Department of Heritage, Culture, and the Gaeltacht and the generosity of our private donors.

Please join us as a new studio space opens at the Galway home of the poet W.B. Yeats!

Designed for workshops, exhibitions, craft sessions, youth groups, special events, talks, and discussion forums, it combines work space for artists with educational and workshop facilities. The Studio at Thoor Ballylee forms a cultural hub in the west of Ireland that matches the commitment of Lily and Elizabeth Yeats to art and education.

Thoor Ballylee is now open for the 2019 season 10am-2pm weekdays, 11am-5pm weekends. See our events page for more, including Leaving Cert lectures Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April.

Stonemason Jetro Sheen of Sheen Stone Works, Gort putting finishing touches to the new slate sign for the Studio. Design probably by Elizabeth Yeats, adapted from the Cuala Press. 

 

The Studio at Thoor Ballylee

The studio is inspired by two extraordinary examples: the work and legacy of the Yeats sisters. As a designer and embroiderer Lily Yeats (born Susan Mary Yeats) studied with May Morris, before setting up as an independent artist and maker of textiles with apprentices of her own. Her sister, artist and educator Elizabeth Yeats (known to the family as Lolly), pioneered the arts in the classroom, creating new watercolour brushwork techniques as a teaching method for children, and coaching young artists from Louis Le Brocquy to Anne Yeats. She became a hand-press printer and maker of books, publishing fine editions of art and literary works including by her brothers the poet W.B. Yeats and the artist Jack B. Yeats. Together the Yeats sisters were the founders of the Dun Emer workshop and then Cuala Industries, a groundbreaking nationalist and feminist collective producing art and providing skills, training, and apprenticeships across a range of applied artistic fields. Determined to revive, improve, and expand the reach of all the arts in Ireland, the example of the Yeats sisters stands behind the vision of the studio, with its emphasis on making of all kinds.

Originally an outbuilding converted to a garage by the Yeats family, the studio faces the Hiberno-Norman tower of Thoor Ballylee made famous by the poetry of W.B. Yeats, who lived and worked there with his wife George Yeats, also an artist and researcher of great ability, and their young family. Its transformation into a studio was made possible by generous private sponsorship and matching competitive funding from the Government of Ireland’s Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

To find out more – or see how you can help – see our website donate page  or contact yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.

 

 

The Studio at Thoor Ballylee opens

Today thanks to the sterling work of our volunteers and helpers, Thoor Ballylee is now open for the 2019 season 10am-2pm weekdays, 11am-5pm weekends. There are an exciting line up of events planned throughout the year. We kick off in grand style with the launch of our new studio space.

The Studio at Thoor Ballylee

A new space for making and thinking

On Sunday 28th April 2019 at 3pm a new studio space opens at the Galway home of the poet W.B. Yeats. Designed for workshops, exhibitions, craft sessions, youth groups, special events, talks, and discussion forums, it combines work space for artists with educational and workshop facilities. The Studio at Thoor Ballylee forms a cultural hub in the west of Ireland that matches the commitment of Lily and Elizabeth Yeats to art and education.

The studio is inspired by two extraordinary examples: the work and legacy of the Yeats sisters. As a designer and embroiderer Lily Yeats (born Susan Mary Yeats) studied with May Morris, before setting up as an independent artist and maker of textiles with apprentices of her own. Her sister, artist and educator Elizabeth Yeats (known to the family as Lolly), pioneered the arts in the classroom, creating new watercolour brushwork techniques as a teaching method for children, and coaching young artists from Louis Le Brocquy to Anne Yeats. She became a hand-press printer and maker of books, publishing fine editions of art and literary works including by her brothers the poet W.B. Yeats and the artist Jack B. Yeats. Together the Yeats sisters were the founders of the Dun Emer workshop and then Cuala Industries, a groundbreaking nationalist and feminist collective producing art and providing skills, training, and apprenticeships across a range of applied artistic fields. Determined to revive, improve, and expand the reach of all the arts in Ireland, the example of the Yeats sisters stands behind the vision of the studio, with its emphasis on making of all kinds.

Saint Colman, design by Jack B. Yeats, embroidery by Lily Yeats and the Dun Emer workshop (1903) (image courtesy of St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea)

Originally an outbuilding converted to a garage by the Yeats family, the studio faces the Hiberno-Norman tower of Thoor Ballylee made famous by the poetry of W.B. Yeats, who lived and worked there with his wife George Yeats, also an artist and researcher of great ability, and their young family. Its transformation into a studio was made possible by generous private sponsorship and matching competitive funding from the Government of Ireland’s Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

With a variety of configurations and uses the studio is designed to host artists, workshops, and young people. A series of craft workshops is planned throughout the year featuring textiles, printmaking, spinning, poetry, drama, storytelling, and more.

Dr Catherine Morris and Dr Barry Houlihan with Cuala Industries handpainted banner (NUI Galway)

The 2019 opening by local historian Sister Mary De Lourdes Fahy at 3pm Sunday 28th April features as special guest Mrs Sabina Higgins, with poet Mary O’Malley, weaver Kathy Mooney and harpist Áine Ní Shioradáin, plus other important artists and visitors. The studio hosts a special exhibition featuring work by Lily, Elizabeth, Jack and W.B. Yeats and the Cuala Industries workshop.

from Elizabeth Rivers, Stranger in Aran (Cuala Press, 1946)

To find out more – or see how you can help – see our website donate page  or contact yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.

John Butler Yeats, Musician

 

 

 

Songbirds

The final event of 2018 at Thoor Ballylee is a concert of music by The Songbirds.

The Songbirds

7.30pm Saturday 6th October

Thoor Ballylee EU12/10 entry

Tickets available on 091 631436 or email yeatsthoorballylee@gmail.com

It’s the last chance to hear music at Thoor this year: come along and visit the tower in an atmosphere of celebration!

The Songbirds feature musicians from around the globe: John Cooper from the Red Dirt Rangers California, Maria Burns from the Burns Sisters Band, Ithaca New York, and Kate Purcell from down the road in County Clare. With classic singers and expert musicians this concert promising to be a fine send-off to a wonderful 2018 season.

 

 

The Only Jealousy of Emer: tickets selling fast!

This new production of WB Yeats’s play of The Only Jealousy of Emer is a world premiere: the first ever fully staged theatre production of Yeats’s play taking place in his own tower. Fresh from a highly acclaimed run at the Galway Theatre Festival this production has been entirely re-imagined for this historic space. As a site-specific movement piece in a resonant venue numbers are limited so get in fast!

DancePlayers presents

The Only Jealousy of Emer

By WB Yeats

8pm Sat 26 and Sun 27 May 2018

Thoor Ballylee, Yeats’s Tower, Gort, Galway

Tickets: €14/12 Concession

Booking:  Places are limited. Booking required by phone 091 631 436 (weekdays 10am to 2pm, weekends 11am to 5pm) or by email to yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.com

The performance begins outdoors so we highly recommend outdoor shoes and appropriate comfortable clothing. Seating is available but only for some scenes.

The great hero Cuchulain is on his deathbed. His body was washed up by the shore after a long and senseless fight with the sea. There are three women around him: his wife, Emer, his lover, Eithne Inguba, and Fand, an evil creature of the Sidhe. His fate is in their hands. Yeats’s poetic dance-drama focuses exclusively on the feelings and motivations of the female characters, and portrays the emotional turmoil that Emer has to suffer when she has to face her own jealousy to save her husband’s life.

DancePlayers is a new ensemble founded in Galway in 2018. It is a group of professional theatre makers and musicians who produce collaborative pieces for physical theatre.

This production aims at exploiting the qualities of the dance play to the full to show the availability of Yeats’s play texts for contemporary audiences within and outside Ireland. It thus features original masks, costumes, live music, dance, design, as well as newly imagined acting, speaking, and movement. Because of the unique arrangements of the venue, the audience move with the performers during the show and seating is only available for certain important scenes. The performance begins outdoors so we highly recommend outdoor shoes and appropriate comfortable clothing.

Funded by The Galway City Council, NUI Galway, The Embassy of Hungary in Dublin and the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society.

Running time: 50 mins without interval.

As featured in the London Times, Galway Bay FM, and many other media outlets – this production promises to be theatre event of the season!

Jeremie Cyr-Cooke (Ghost of Cuchulain) and Orlaith Ni Chearra (Fand/Woman of the Sidhe) work on choreography

 

 

 

 

 

The Only Jealousy of Emer: Yeats play at Thoor Ballylee

Yeats’s tower this spring hosts the theatre event of the season, as WB Yeats’s play The Only Jealousy of Emer receives its Thoor Ballylee premiere in a spectacular production by Galway-based theatre group DancePlayers.

Fresh from a highly-acclaimed run at Galway Theatre Festival, this new production, featuring resonant music, dance, acting, and design is re-imagined especially for  Yeats’s tower. As a moving site-specific piece in a historic venue numbers are limited so get in fast!

DancePlayers presents

The Only Jealousy of Emer

By WB Yeats

8pm Sat 26 and Sun 27 May 2018

Thoor Ballylee, Yeats’s Tower, Gort, Galway

Tickets: €14/12 Concession

Booking:  Places are limited. Booking required by phone 091 631 436 (weekdays 10am to 2pm, weekends 11am to 5pm) or by email to yeatsthoorballyleesociety@gmail.com

The performance begins outdoors so we highly recommend outdoor shoes and appropriate comfortable clothing. Seating is available but only for some scenes.

The great hero Cuchulain is on his deathbed. His body was washed up by the shore after a long and senseless fight with the sea. There are three women around him: his wife, Emer, his lover, Eithne Inguba, and Fand, an evil creature of the Sidhe. His fate is in their hands. Yeats’s poetic dance-drama focuses exclusively on the feelings and motivations of the female characters, and portrays the emotional turmoil that Emer has to suffer when she has to face her own jealousy to save her husband’s life.

The Only Jealousy of Emer is a one-act dance piece by W.B. Yeats. Written in 1918, it is one of the earliest plays by an Irish writer for physical theatre, with dance, masks and music. Inspired by the Japanese Noh theatre tradition, Yeats wrote this piece for an empty stage, where movement, gesture, posture, masks, spatial relations and dance all contribute to act of storytelling. Physicality speaks it its own language in these plays, so the performers’ task is to elevate this form of expression to the standard of Yeats’s verse and create a piece of total theatre.

This production is an attempt to prove that Yeats’s Noh-inspired dance plays have every right to be presented in front of a heterogeneous audience, in any part of the world, even 100 years after their composition. The notion that these pieces are only accessible for scholars and those “select few” that have an interest in oriental theatre, poetry or Irish mythology is widespread, and is rooted in the absence of professional Yeats productions on the world’s stages. This production aims at exploiting the qualities of the dance play to the full to show the availability of Yeats’s play texts for contemporary audiences within and outside Ireland. It thus features original masks, costumes, live music, dance, design, as well as newly imagined acting, speaking, and movement.

The show is a world premiere: the first ever fully staged theatre production of Yeats’s play The Only Jealousy of Emer taking place in his own tower. Fresh from a highly acclaimed run at the Galway Theatre Festival this production has been entirely re-imagined for this historic space.

Cast and crew after rehearsals at Thoor Ballylee

Because of the unique arrangements of the venue, the audience move with the performers during the show and seating is only available for certain important scenes. The performance begins outdoors so we highly recommend outdoor shoes and appropriate comfortable clothing.

Running time: 50 mins without interval.

DancePlayers is a new ensemble founded in Galway in 2018. It is a group of professional theatre makers and musicians who produce collaborative pieces for physical theatre.

Funded by The Galway City Council, NUI Galway, The Embassy of Hungary in Dublin and the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society.