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

 

Lady Gregory Yeats Autumn Gathering

THE LADY GREGORY–YEATS AUTUMN GATHERING

Friday 27- Sunday 29 September 2019

Join the Lady Gregory-Yeats Autumn Gathering and discover more about our rich literary heritage in Galway, especially at Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee.

This year the Lady Gregory-Yeats Autumn Gathering features a playwriting workshop with Marina Carr and Melissa Sihra and includes exclusive talks from guest speakers, drama, film from the archives, and plenty of chat and socialising.

Playwright Marina Carr in rehearsal

To mark the 25th anniversary of the annual Lady Gregory-Yeats Autumn Gathering at Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee, playwright Marina Carr and academic Melissa Sihra, conduct a playwriting workshop at Thoor Ballylee. Join one of Ireland’s greatest living dramatists for this unique opportunity. This workshop will take place in The Studio at Thoor Ballylee on Friday 27 September from 2pm to 5pm. To join this exclusive event email monaleen@msn.com – playwrights are invited to submit a one-page monologue in advance and places are limited.

Further highlights include:

Book launch: Marina Carr: Pastures of the Unknown, by Melissa Sihra
Cutting of the Gort Barm Brack by Lady Gregory’s great, great grandson, Robin Murray Brown
Women, Anxiety and Resistance in Fairy Legends Collected by Lady Gregory with Lucy McDiarmid
Patronage and Friendship: Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats with Nicholas Grene
The Making of a Drama: Lady Gregory 1908-1910 with Anthony Roche
Other Women Pioneers at the Abbey with Lelia Doolan
Augusta in America: Lady Gregory finds a new audience, new voice and fresh sphere of influence in the New World with Cecily O’Neill
Lady G: screening of Carolyn Swift’s one-woman Abbey Theatre performance, with Barry Houlihan

and

‘Lady Gregory’s Ingredients’ short drama play which takes place at Thoor Ballylee, Yeats’s castle home.

Plus entertainment and candlelit dinner amidst the woodland of Coole Park!

Please see www.autumngathering.com for more details.

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

 

Maud Gonne & Yeats talk

This weekend at Thoor Ballylee, columnist and author Anthony J. Jordan gives us his views on an interesting and controversial topic.

Maud Gonne’s Men

Anthony J. Jordan

Thoor Ballylee

3pm Saturday 13th July 2019

Biographer of Arthur Griffith, W.T. Cosgrave and Sean MacBride, Anthony J. Jordan is a native of Ballyhuinis, Co. Mayo, educated at NUI Maynooth, UCD, and St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He has wide interests in Irish culture and politics, and in particular the complicated repatriation of the bodies of Irish writers like W. B. Yeats and James Joyce.

His talk this weekend delves into the thorny thickets of Maud Gonne’s life, loves, and nationalist activities following his own book on the topic (see above). Gonne’s long affair with the right-wing French nationalist Lucien Millevoye produced two children, one who would die tragically young, and an agreement to take on the British Empire in any form. This entanglement overlapped with her spiritual marriage with W.B. Yeats, and prefigured a disastrous marriage with the revolutionary John MacBride which ended with abuse allegations and a fraught separation case. Even then after his execution in 1916 she wore black in honour of a man who Yeats’s ‘Easter 1916’ says he ‘dreamed / A drunken vainglorious lout’. Amid renewed interest in the subject stimulated by new work such as Adrian Frazier’s The Adulterous Muse: Maud Gonne, Lucien Millevoye and W.B. Yeats (Lilliput, 2016), Anthony J. Jordan gives us his considered opinion and answers questions.

Join us for an engrossing talk, a cup of tea, and a unique view of Yeats’s tower.

Yeats’s birthday celebrations

W.B. Yeats was born on the 13th June 1865: on this day in 2019 that makes him a notional 154 years young, entering his 155th year. Though he complained loudly in verse about old age he did so from a very young age – and when approaching seniority retained a youthful vigour. Young, old, and somewhere in between gathered in Thoor Ballylee to read poems, sing songs, and share birthday cake for the grand old ever-young poet.

Rena McAllen, Tiana Fischer, Stephen O’Neill, and Melinda Szüts

Poems written early and late in life, from ‘Down By the Salley Gardens’ and ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ to ‘The Tower’ and ‘Blood and the Moon’ were sung or read out loud (the way Yeats believed poetry should be performed) at our newly opened studio.

Colm Farrell and the Doolan family: Lelia Doolan about to read

Poems were read putting blessings on the tower, and expressing a wish to leave the country, or the body: “That is no country for old men”, declares ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. With the young jackdaws nesting in the tower having just flown their nest, reading ‘The Stare’s Nest By My Window’ from ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’ was particularly poignant.

‘The Stare’s Nest By My Window’

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned.
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war:
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

The Nobel prize medal for Literature he won pictured a young fellow listening to a beautiful muse. “I was good-looking once like that young man”, exclaimed Yeats, “but my unpractised verse was full of infirmity, my Muse old as it were. Now I am old and rheumatic, and nothing to look at, but my Muse is young.”

A horse joins the celebrations

In celebration this piece of music and reading by Ciaran Cannon features recent footage of Thoor Ballylee.

When You Are Old – WB Yeats from Ciaran Cannon on Vimeo.

Melinda Szüts reads from the opening song of the play ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’.

Happy Birthday to W.B. Yeats from all at Thoor Ballylee, County Galway!

 

 

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

 

 

 

Thoor Ballylee opens!

Thoor Ballylee opens to all visitors from Saturday 20th April 2019. Yeats’s famous tower is open all summer for visits, cultural events, crafts workshops, and more!

Come and visit the fourteenth-century Hiberno-Norman tower featured in so many of W.B. Yeats’s best poems.

The Winding Stair and other Poems (1929)

Climb the winding stair (and mind our precious bats and nesting jackdaws!).

Discover more about the life and work of W.B. Yeats in world-class exhibitions.

Join in our numerous cultural events, performances, and workshops!

Jeremie Cyr-Cooke (Ghost of Cuchulain) and Orlaith Ni Chearra (Fand/Woman of the Sidhe) work on choreography for Yeats’s The Only Jealous of Emer

Treat yourself to tea and cake by our roaring fire, and browse in our giftshop.

Or just soak in the atmosphere of the Norman tower and beautiful surrounds.

Our first special event of 2019 is the launch of our new studio space, The Studio @ Thoor Ballylee. Open as a working space for artists and audiences, and featuring workshops, educational events, exhibitions, symposiums, and discussion groups, it forms a vibrant cultural hub in the west of Ireland that matches the commitment of the Yeats sisters to art and education. Funded by generous donors and the Department of Culture, the studio opens in honour of Lily & Elizabeth Yeats, artists and pioneer embroiders, printers, and educators.

Our grand opening at 3pm Sunday 28th April features local artists and speakers and a wonderful exhibition of the Yeats sisters’ Cuala Industries material.

For more details see our visitors page. Our latest 2019 calendar of events is available here. As a non-profit community organization, Thoor Ballylee is run by volunteers. To find out how you can help us in our mission to keep open Yeats’s tower for new generations click here.

See you soon!

In Memory of W.B. Yeats

It is eighty years, a lifetime and no time at all, since W.B. Yeats died and was laid to rest at Roquebrune in the south of France. Far from home, friends and energies surrounded him, and he left life still busy working and thinking: “I know for certain my time will not be long. I have put away everything that can be put away that I may speak what I have to speak, & I find my expression is a part of study […]. It seems to me that I have found what I wanted. When I try to put all into a phrase I say, ‘Man can embody truth but he cannot know it’. I must embody it in the completion of my life.”

France, Var, Roquebrune sur Argens, snow in winter on the cliffs of the Rocher de Roquebrune

When his death was announced, the wires hummed with tributes from around the world. Most interesting perhaps were responses from his younger contemporaries, Louis MacNeice and W.H. Auden. They had differed politically from Yeats in the ‘low dishonest decade’ of the 1930s, and yet both were moved to respond handsomely. Louis MacNeice would write a one of the earliest and finest books of criticism about the poet, published in 1941, and W.H. Auden wrote several essays and a poem among the finest in the language.

Thoor Ballylee, Galway, March 2018 (from Connacht Tribune)

Auden’s poem is sombre, strangely moral, and reflective, as he works out a strong sense of difference amidst his admiration (in its final version below, the poem was revised to leave out any need for forgiveness: ‘Time […] pardons him for writing well’). It records the effect of the poet’s death on the world, but the world’s impress on all he left behind, including those last to know about his passing, his poems. Yeats had been seeking warm weather for his health, but through Auden’s eyes it was marked indelibly by a symbolically cold winter: ‘What instruments we have agree / The day of his death was a dark cold day.’ With the current cold snap across these islands and in North America it is hard not to recall the words of this probing, bracing tribute, first published later in 1939 as the flames of World War Two were rising.

Chicago and Lake Minnesota, January 2019

In Memory of W.B. Yeats

I
He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.

The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.
But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the
Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly
accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his
freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

II
You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

III
Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden.

 

Ben Bulben, Sligo, January 2018