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.
Read about this story in the Galway Advertiser.
Yeats’s 1918 poem ‘To Be Carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee’
Promise of a licence for Thoor Ballylee granted in Seanad
Fáilte Ireland is to grant a licence to the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society to enable it to fundraise to re-open the tourist attraction.
Thoor Ballylee, once the home of W.B.Yeats and his family and an inspiration to his poetry, closed in 2010 after extensive flooding. Fáilte Ireland spent EU 200,000 euro in 2012 to secure the building.
The tourism authority says it’s not viable to provide funds for the re-opening of the 15th-century Norman tower.
William Butler Yeats and his wife George, 1920s
Chair of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames raised the matter in the Seanad, in a joint venture with Senator Susan O’Keeffe, chair of the Yeats2015 committee for celebrating Yeats’s 150th birthday.
Senator Healy-Eames called on the Tourism Minister to ensure Fáilte Ireland provides a licence to the local society to fundraise to re-open the building themselves.
Senator Healy-Eames with Senator O’Keefe argued that Thoor Ballylee needs to re-open for the national celebration of the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth next year.
Responding, Junior Minister at the Department of Tourism, Michael Ring says he’s glad to announce that a licence will be granted to raise funds for Thoor Ballylee.
Once an Irish senator himself, W.B.Yeats made notable speeches in the chamber arguing passionately for the right to divorce and against strict censorship laws. The poet was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923.
Story at Galway Bay FM here.