Continuing our summer programme of cultural events, don’t miss your chance to attend our next concert.
Portrait of a Lady
at Thoor Ballylee
Friday 24 June at 8:00 PM
The concert features Helen Hancock (Soprano), Catriona McElhinney Grimes (Piano), and our guest Kitty Sabry (Violin).
Join us for an evening of eclectic music – from French song and German lieder to Irish song and arrangements of Irish music for solo piano.
The programme explores the voice of women and includes a song cycle by Clara Schumann, songs by Lili Boulanger and Catriona’s own arrangements of Irish music for piano solo. Irish song settings and songs by Fauré, Schubert and Mozart will also feature.
Come find us in the historic venue of Thoor Ballylee, Gort, Co. Galway where Yeats himself lived and where many powerful female voices were heard!
Today, 13 June, sees the 157th birthday of WB Yeats.
This Thursday 16 June is Bloomsday, a special event this year as 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
For Bloomsday this Thursday Thoor Ballylee celebrates with a special performance of Noramollyannalivialucia: The Muse and Mister Joyce” written by Irish poet Eamon Grennan.
Curlew Theatre Company presents
The Muse and Mister Joyce
at Yeats’s Tower, Thoor Ballylee
8pm Thursday June 2022
Admission €15. Tickets available on the door: or for bookings phone 091 631436 / 0858620935
This is a solo play for voices based on Nora Barnacle’s life, in which Joyce’s Galway wife Nora is visited by a group of people (the audience) keen for stories about Joyce, and receive some home truths. Extracts from Joyce’s works interweave with Nora’s memories as she composes a portrait of the artist’s wife as an older woman. The play is performed by Curlew Theatre Company with musical interludes by Nicola and Karina Cahill on harp and flute.
Yeats had the idea that Thoor Ballylee might work as an artistic a hub for Irish artists like James Joyce.
On Saturday 30th April Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is hosting a fundraiser in aid of the Ukrainian refugee crisis. It is a fitting venue as much of Yeats’s work, including “Meditations in Time of Civil War”, conceived and written at Thoor Ballylee, considered the nature of war and violence, and led to him receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The event on April 30th 2022 will consist of a afternoon tea served at the cottage in the 14th century tower between 3pm and 4.30pm.
You will be spoiled with a selection of delicious treats kindly provided by local restaurateurs and businesses.
A photograph from the event: all proceeds go to Ukrainian refugee organizations. For more details visit here. And below Nicolay Homenko shows off his artistic skills – this piece was created during the concert!
Poetry Day Ireland
Poetry Day Ireland takes place today, Thursday 28 April 2022. The theme is ‘Written in the Stars’.
Poetry Ireland ask us all to share a poem, read a poem, speak a poem, participate in a Poetry Day Ireland event or programme your own event on the day. Everyone is invited to join in and celebrate, just remember to tag them on #PoetryDayIrl.
Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society joins in with this weird millennial poem from The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). It refers to a mythical battle of ancient Ireland whose terrifying violence seems to come again, whereupon the speaker humbly submits in peace before the fates written in the stars, dictated by the demiurge, or prime mover of the heavens.
‘The Valley of the Black Pig’
The dews drop slowly and dreams gather: unknown spears
Suddenly hurtle before my dream-awakened eyes,
And then the clash of fallen horsemen and the cries
Of unknown perishing armies beat about my ears.
We who still labour by the cromlech on the shore,
The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,
Being weary of the world’s empires, bow down to you
Master of the still stars and of the flaming door.
Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is delighted to announce our Easter reopening, and welcoming back our visitors – after a two year closure – from 11am this Easter Saturday 16th April 2022! Comhaltas Gaillimh Theas will provide entertainment between 12 noon and 1pm.
Each weekend in April we’ll be open 11-4pm. Further opening hours will be announced for the summer.
Especially thanks to our many helpers, contractors, and volunteers (to help or join us see below) we are primed and ready, and excited to welcome you back!
This Easter Saturday and beyond into spring and summer, come along and learn about the life and work of WB Yeats, the poems he wrote at Thoor Ballylee, and he and his family’s deep connections to the area and the west of Ireland. The cultural revolution his family began would involve the whole island in arts and crafts, so it is fitting that the restoration of the the restoration of the tower with local materials is continued today in the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society’s efforts with local craftworkers and landscape gardeners on the gardens, the Studio at Thoor Ballylee, and the Mill.
With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, with camera and editing by Morgan Creative and Seanchas Productions, and featuring local musicians and contributors, these short films are voiced by luminaries like Marie Mullen from Druid Theatre and some of our very own members. They highlight places in County Galway important to Yeats and which feature in some of his finest poems, from ‘The Tower’ to (as here) ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, as a ghost returns to old haunts.
Come and help!
Thoor Ballylee historic fourteenth Century tower house, once home to Nobel Prize winning poet WB Yeats and his family, is managed and run by an amazing group of volunteers. We are currently adding to our volunteer pool so if you have a love of literature or history, enjoy interacting with people and have four hours a week to spare, please contact Thoor Ballylee at +353 85 862 0935, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us above.
We are a voluntary group with no permanent external funding. We’d love for you to help us keep this unique heritage site going for all of us today, and for future generations. To join us or donate any amount large or small see the donate page above.
In readiness for our grand reopening on Easter Saturday, our team of volunteers took advantage of the spring sunshine and tidied and pruned and carried and cleaned and gardened and wheeled and worked and generally made the C14th Norman tower and its surrounds ready for visitors.
After over two years of waiting Thoor Ballylee will reopen for visitors Saturday 16 April 2022. The countdown continues!
Speaking of gardening, when you visit Thoor Ballylee, why not stop at Lady Gregory’s great gardens and woods at Coole Park? The latest of our short films highlighting Galway places features Yeats’s poem ‘Coole and Ballylee 1931’ and celebrates the place, the people, and all the inspiration to which it gave birth. Voiced by Marie Mullen from Druid Theatre.
With the help of the Spot-lit programme for literary tourism, with camera and editing by Morgan Creative and Seanchas Productions, and featuring local musicians and contributors, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is presenting the online premieres of new films about Yeats and Galway. For more see Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society youtube channel
James Pethica (Professor of Theatre and English, Williams College), will preview his edition of Lady Gregory’s Shorter Writings 1882-1900, to be published later this year.
Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI Galway, will preview the 90th Anniversary of Lady Gregory in 2022 as well as remembering Gregory through the decades, from exhibitions to performance.
Christopher Frayling, Cultural Historian, will discuss John Ford and Lady Gregory.
Time for Q&A, sip tea with a slice of brack in the comfort of your own living-room, and celebrate the magic of Coole Park! Ronnie and Marion and all the crew at the Autumn Gathering do hope you can join them.
Would you like to explore the natural beauty of WB Yeats’ home at Thoor Ballylee in County Galway? Hear his folk and fairy tales, make magic wands and fairy doors? Come and share his love for nature and the legends of the past?
Then join us for our Wild Child celebration this Heritage Week on Wednesday 18 August!.
The event is designed to connect children to the wild wonder of the place, and ignite the magic of the realm that Yeats so loved. There are fairy tales and fables from Yeats as well as poetry and song. We are also preparing a fairy walk with fairy volunteers imparting exciting titbits of woodland lore to children and adults.
This is a free event, but due to Covid 19 restrictions registration for workshops is necessary.
Workshops will be held at the following times:
Wild Child Workshops
Wednesday 18 August 2021
11am, 1pm, 3pm
Suitable for children under 12 years of age, and all those young at heart.
Everyone is invited to join the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society for our annual birthday celebrations! This live picnic will be held at a socially-distanced event in the grounds of Thoor Ballylee at 3pm Sunday June 13. All attendees are invited to read their favourite Yeats poem and say why it matters to them.
Sunday marks the poet WB Yeats’ 156th birthday, but this year the committee would like especially to honour the artists Lily Yeats (her 155th birthday) and Elizabeth Yeats (her 153rd birthday) after whom the Studio at Thoor is named.
Poetry, song, hampers, cakes, the sound of laughter and running water – all the joy of a birthday picnic – what’s not to like! Especially if you’d like to read, prospective participants should contact email@example.com
Lily Yeats’s work as an embroiderer is increasingly highly regarded, and not before time. This fine example of her needlework earlier this year exceeded the estimate in auction, going for over nearly €7500.
Wishing all our friends and everyone around the world Nollaig shona dhaoibh and a happier, brighter new year.
This year many of us have lost friends, family, and colleagues, and we take a moment to remember them: in WB Yeats’s understanding, the best way of keeping them with us. Alongside luminaries such as Dr Margaret MacCurtain, at Thoor Ballylee we particularly remember two good friends, powerful advocates for women and for the arts: Mary McPartlan, singer and cultural activist whose concert closed last year’s season, and Lois Tobin, co-founder of the Yeats Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering, whose determination, generosity, and style ensured that our literary and cultural heritage was shared across generations and borders.
Yet Thoor Ballylee stands. With your ongoing help and support, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society charged with its guardianship emerges from the old year if anything stronger. While Thoor Ballylee was closed to physical visitors for most of the year, we have been open for virtual events, and began a series of films highlighting the place and its hidden delights.
Work has begun on our mill wheel, as part of our plan to remake with craft in metal and wood the fine centrepiece of the old mill just downstream from Yeats’s tower.
While physical labour is paused due to winter flooding, our astonishing volunteers, engineer Eugene Murphy and his team, have produced these blueprints for the new wheel, looking like something out of Yeats’s A Vision:
This year the DruidGregory project brought the plays of Lady Gregory in outdoor productions nearby Coole Park and other locations in Galway. With them they brought W.B. Yeats’s poems in performance, with fine videos available supported by the Poetry Foundation.
One hundred years ago, as the year was reaching an end, Yeats was finishing his poem ‘All Soul’s Night’. The strange spiritual revelations he and his wife George were investigating held out the promise of new beginnings – not always comfortable, but rich in thought:
I have a marvellous thing to say,
A certain marvellous thing
None but the living mock,
Though not for sober ear;
It may be all that hear
Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
In this spirit we wish all our friends around the world a rich and revelatory new year, and we look forward to welcoming you all back to Galway and to Thoor Ballylee, spiritually and in person.