Winter greetings from Thoor Ballylee

Following a two-year closure to in-person visitors, Thoor Ballylee opened to all comers in 2022 and all here had a busy and exciting year.  

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society was chosen as a delegate in the European Union’s Cultural Heritage in Action program, and was invited to be on the list of Best Practice Sites in Europe. We are also continuing to work nationally and internationally to address the current environmental issues: to that end we are restoring the mill wheel on site, with the hope of generating our own electricity. We hope to implement a biodiversity project, which will help restore the flora and fauna that surrounded Yeats and his family at Thoor Ballylee, and which is mirrored in his writing.

2023 marks an important time for Thoor Ballylee as that year marks the centenary of Yeats winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. To that end, we are planning a series of events to mark the occasion, as we continue our work to preserve and promote Yeats’s legacy. In tandem with the centenary events, we have an equally ambitious programme of performances, tours, talks, and exhibitions for 2023. 

If you’d like to read more about the many cultural events associated with the tower, take time in the new year to visit our website for the latest –  – and why not follow us on Facebook by liking Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society!

As always, we appreciate your continued interest and support in our work to honour the remarkable Yeats family and historic Norman building, and to keep alive the work of WB Yeats through poetry, culture, history, and love of nature. 

If you would like to donate, become a Friend of Thoor Ballylee (or renew your Friend of Thoor Ballylee subscription), we gladly invite you to visit our website donation page.

Many thanks to all our visitors and well-wishers and donors and friends, and wishing you all the best for this season! We close with a photograph of Thoor Ballylee from just last week in all its winter glory.

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society project launch

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'

Yeats’s 1918 poem ‘To Be Carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee’

Senate support for 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

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.