Thoor Ballylee flooding will not delay reopening

Thoor Ballylee has been affected by recent flooding, but is structurally sound and will be opening as scheduled again in the spring, representatives from the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society have confirmed this weekend.

Over the weekend Storm Desmond hit the west coast of Ireland with considerable force, winds gusting at over 70 miles per hour (118 kph), causing power outages and bringing with it severely heavy rainfall. With the coastline battered by stormy weather, standing water appeared on many roads, and rivers and streams across County Galway are running unusually high. Streamstown River, which passes Yeats’s tower at its foot, burst its banks and water flowed down the road. Members of Yeats Thoor Ballylee were quickly on the scene to inspect the situation.

However the tower has suffered no long-term damage, and will open as scheduled in the spring, say representatives from the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, who opened the tower for the first time in many years this summer. Having stood for six hundred years, the tower has been repeatedly surveyed and found to be structurally sound, even in the event of flooding, not uncommon in this part of the county. It had already been cleared out ready for winter, and no long-term damage to goods or interior is expected. A flood action plan ensures that, while there is a considerable clearing-out job to be done, and continued support and volunteers for this vital, there is every expectation that the tower’s planned spring opening will not be affected.

As Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames pointed out, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society took on the tower in the expectation that flooding might occur. ‘That has always been part of our plans’, she confirmed today. ‘We chose to proceed on that basis and made our decisions regarding refurbishment and remountable [installations] accordingly.’

‘Yes, the tower will be open for business in the Spring’, confirmed Councillor Joe Byrne. ‘There’s a job to do, but it confirms the necessity of all the work we’ve been doing to raise electrics and services above flood levels.’

Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is a voluntary organization who have taken on the running of Yeats’s tower using local resources and local volunteers. Thoor Ballylee opened for the first time in many years for Yeats2015, and hosted a number of cultural events, climaxing in the Harp and Moon Festival with Caitriona Yeats, granddaughter of the Nobel Prize-winning poet.  There is a full programme of events in the pipeline for next year, and a long-term plan for its permanent restoration and re-opening. Thoor Ballylee relies on external donations to fund its work with what Seamus Heaney called ‘the most important public building in Ireland.’ To find out how you can help, follow this link.

Rising flood waters at Thoor Ballylee on Friday night

Rising flood waters at Thoor Ballylee on Friday night

Lady Gregory comes back to Thoor Ballylee this Wednesday!

Pentameters Theatre/London Irish Theatre presents:

LADY GREGORY: A GALWAY LIFE

Written by Phil Mason

Directed by John Dunne

Produced by Léonie Scott-Matthews

Starring Maura Judges as Lady Gregory

Thoor Ballylee performance Wed 21st October 2015 – fresh from a run in London’s West End

Tickets: £13.00 / Concessions: £10.00
Tickets available from Colm Farrell auctioneer 091632688, from Yeats Thoor Ballylee soc members and (if available) on the door.

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Lady Gregory was the driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival at the turn of the twentieth century and was a central figure in the founding of Ireland’s Abbey Theatre. She was also a major influence on W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Sean O’Casey and many of the Irish writers of the day.

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About the author…Phil Mason is a graduate of NUI, Galway B.A. (Hons) in English and Philosophy, the College of Commerce Dublin (Computer Programming) and a former member of the institute of Certified Public Accountants. She worked in Dublin, Galway, Germany and Derry for many years developing, installing and supporting computerised accounting systems. She then qualified as an accountant and worked in accountancy for some years until she decided to trade creative accounting for creative writing just four years ago. In this time she has had one novel published and has written five plays, three of which have received rehearsed readings. Her latest play about the life and times of Lady Gregory opens in London at the beginning of October followed by a short tour in Ireland. She is currently working on a screenplay.

About the actor…Maura Judges: Recent work has included the role of Maria Josefa in The House of Bernarda Alba and Fonsia Dorsey in The Gin Game. Last year Maura took part in The Mother by Bertolt Brecht, a community production at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Maura also enjoys working as an extra and has been seen in many TV programmes including Call the Midwife, Doctors, Broadchurch and Casualty. She also played a mad aunt in Shane White’s Belfast comedy Romancing the Score (Pentameters/Irish Theatre). Her last role was in Shelagh Stephenson’s play Five Kinds of Silence in May and her future plans include playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella in December.

About the producer…Léonie Scott-Matthews. Founded in August 1968, Pentameters is one of the most respected fringe theatres in London. Léonie has put on hundreds of professional shows from Shakespeare, classic revivals and new plays to alternative comedy, music and poetry events. The many authors to perform at Pentameters include Dannie Abse, Kingsley Amis, Margaret Drabble, Ted Hughes, Laurie Lee, Roger McGough, Edna O’Brien, Harold Pinter, John Wain and the psychologist R.D. Laing. The Theatre has also played host to many performers at the start of their careers, including Russell Brand, Adrian Edmundson, Ben Elton, French and Saunders, Nigel Havers, Celia lmrie, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Jenny Seagrove, Pamela Stephenson and Alexei Sayle. To celebrate her commitment to the creative arts, Léonie was honoured as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and, as a Hampstead resident, received a Camden Good Citizen Award in 1998 in recognition of her outstanding work for the community.

About the director…,John Dunne works as a producer, director, writer and stage manager. He has directed his own work as well as work by new Irish playwrights, with premiers in London, Dublin and Belfast. As a writer he has penned a trilogy of Irish plays consisting of Famine, 1916 and Belfast and has also written a series of Ulster plays consisting of Long Woman’s Grave, Cattle Raid of Cooley, Macha’s Curse and most recently Tommy’s Wake. John has also toured the UK and Ireland with a number of his productions. John writes, produces and directs issue plays and classic adaptations of English novels many of which have premiered in London and played across the UK.

Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory

(15 March 1852 – 22 May 1932)

Lady Gregory was a member of Irish Ascendency class with extensive land-owning property. Despite this aristocratic background she became interested in the cause of Irish freedom and supported the nationalist causes of the day.

It was on meeting W.B. Yeats at the turn of the century that her prominence as a literary figure came into being. She was a key figure in establishing the Irish Literary Theatre and later the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national playhouse. Along with J.M. Synge and Yeats, she formed a formidable trio of Irish literary giants which was later to include Sean O’Casey and many others.

Her stately mansion at Coole Park, County Galway, became a creative hub with artists and writers staying for long periods of time – it was Yeats’ second home! Indeed, her influence on Yeats was immense, especially in the penning of many of his plays. At one point her own plays proved more popular than Yeats and Synge put together, having written up to forty plays for the Abbey as well as books on Irish folklore and mythology. .

Maura Judges delicate portrayal of Lady Gregory embarks on a journey of a life filled to the brim as we see Augusta, first as a socialite, then nationalist, then as a literary linchpin in an Ireland desperate for a national identity.

Lady Gregory’s motto in life was taken from Aristotle: “To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people.”

NB: Lady Gregory will be embarking on a short tour of Ireland

During October calling at Listowel (15th), Kenmare (16th), Waterville (18th), Ballylee (21st) and Kilworth (22nd).

For further information please contact John Dunne on 07981 851 554 or email info@londonirishtheatre.com

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October arts events at Thoor Ballylee

Although closed for winter to visitors, you can still visit Thoor Ballylee for October: come along, climb the winding stair, meet our resident bats, visit the poet’s bedroom, all while enjoying unique site-specific entertainment during our October arts month of exciting events.

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12 noon Sunday 18 October Visit of the International Yeats Society

8pm Wednesday 21 October Lady Gregory: A Galway Life

7.30 pm Tuesday 27 October Yeats2015 Harp Festival of Moons

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Lady Gregory: A Galway Life at Thoor Ballylee

Pentameters Theatre/London Irish Theatre presents:

LADY GREGORY: A GALWAY LIFE

Written by Phil Mason

Directed by John Dunne

Produced by Léonie Scott-Matthews

Starring Maura Judges as Lady Gregory

Thoor Ballylee performance Wed 21st October 2015 – fresh from a run in London’s West End

Tickets: £13.00 / Concessions: £10.00
Tickets available from Colm Farrell auctioneer 091632688, from Yeats Thoor Ballylee soc members and (if available) on the door.

Lady-Augusta-Gregory-1280x695px1

Lady Gregory was the driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival at the turn of the twentieth century and was a central figure in the founding of Ireland’s Abbey Theatre. She was also a major influence on W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Sean O’Casey and many of the Irish writers of the day.

Coole Park333

 

About the author…Phil Mason is a graduate of NUI, Galway B.A. (Hons) in English and Philosophy, the College of Commerce Dublin (Computer Programming) and a former member of the institute of Certified Public Accountants. She worked in Dublin, Galway, Germany and Derry for many years developing, installing and supporting computerised accounting systems. She then qualified as an accountant and worked in accountancy for some years until she decided to trade creative accounting for creative writing just four years ago. In this time she has had one novel published and has written five plays, three of which have received rehearsed readings. Her latest play about the life and times of Lady Gregory opens in London at the beginning of October followed by a short tour in Ireland. She is currently working on a screenplay.

About the actor…Maura Judges: Recent work has included the role of Maria Josefa in The House of Bernarda Alba and Fonsia Dorsey in The Gin Game. Last year Maura took part in The Mother by Bertolt Brecht, a community production at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Maura also enjoys working as an extra and has been seen in many TV programmes including Call the Midwife, Doctors, Broadchurch and Casualty. She also played a mad aunt in Shane White’s Belfast comedy Romancing the Score (Pentameters/Irish Theatre). Her last role was in Shelagh Stephenson’s play Five Kinds of Silence in May and her future plans include playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella in December.

About the producer…Léonie Scott-Matthews. Founded in August 1968, Pentameters is one of the most respected fringe theatres in London. Léonie has put on hundreds of professional shows from Shakespeare, classic revivals and new plays to alternative comedy, music and poetry events. The many authors to perform at Pentameters include Dannie Abse, Kingsley Amis, Margaret Drabble, Ted Hughes, Laurie Lee, Roger McGough, Edna O’Brien, Harold Pinter, John Wain and the psychologist R.D. Laing. The Theatre has also played host to many performers at the start of their careers, including Russell Brand, Adrian Edmundson, Ben Elton, French and Saunders, Nigel Havers, Celia lmrie, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Jenny Seagrove, Pamela Stephenson and Alexei Sayle. To celebrate her commitment to the creative arts, Léonie was honoured as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and, as a Hampstead resident, received a Camden Good Citizen Award in 1998 in recognition of her outstanding work for the community.

About the director…,John Dunne works as a producer, director, writer and stage manager. He has directed his own work as well as work by new Irish playwrights, with premiers in London, Dublin and Belfast. As a writer he has penned a trilogy of Irish plays consisting of Famine, 1916 and Belfast and has also written a series of Ulster plays consisting of Long Woman’s Grave, Cattle Raid of Cooley, Macha’s Curse and most recently Tommy’s Wake. John has also toured the UK and Ireland with a number of his productions. John writes, produces and directs issue plays and classic adaptations of English novels many of which have premiered in London and played across the UK.

Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory

(15 March 1852 – 22 May 1932)

Lady Gregory was a member of Irish Ascendency class with extensive land-owning property. Despite this aristocratic background she became interested in the cause of Irish freedom and supported the nationalist causes of the day.

It was on meeting W.B. Yeats at the turn of the century that her prominence as a literary figure came into being. She was a key figure in establishing the Irish Literary Theatre and later the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national playhouse. Along with J.M. Synge and Yeats, she formed a formidable trio of Irish literary giants which was later to include Sean O’Casey and many others.

Her stately mansion at Coole Park, County Galway, became a creative hub with artists and writers staying for long periods of time – it was Yeats’ second home! Indeed, her influence on Yeats was immense, especially in the penning of many of his plays. At one point her own plays proved more popular than Yeats and Synge put together, having written up to forty plays for the Abbey as well as books on Irish folklore and mythology. .

Maura Judges delicate portrayal of Lady Gregory embarks on a journey of a life filled to the brim as we see Augusta, first as a socialite, then nationalist, then as a literary linchpin in an Ireland desperate for a national identity.

Lady Gregory’s motto in life was taken from Aristotle: “To think like a wise man, but to express oneself like the common people.”

NB: Lady Gregory will be embarking on a short tour of Ireland

During October calling at Listowel (15th), Kenmare (16th), Waterville (18th), Ballylee (21st) and Kilworth (22nd).

For further information please contact John Dunne on 07981 851 554 or email info@londonirishtheatre.com

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The New York Times discovers Thoor Ballylee

As the weather starts to close in for winter, there are still some exciting events to attend at Thoor Ballylee, representing rare chances for visitors to view the interior of the tower during the winter months.  Here follows the opening of what The New York Times writer Dan Barry had to say about Thoor Ballylee. You can read more here.
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BALLYLEE, Ireland — In the County Galway parish of Kiltartan, in this bit of a place called Ballylee, a lichen-flecked tower rises from the wet ground to lord over cow and stream and the occasional otter. Its limestone walls shelter a protected species of bats, some field mice and a perpetual dampness evoking the must of the past.

The tower also harbors a significant piece of the legacy of William Butler Yeats, whose birth 150 years ago has been cause for a year of celebration throughout Ireland and the world. The poet spent many summers in the tower he christenedThoor Ballylee, and it inspired some of his most enduring work.

Over the years, though, the Norman tower has encountered natural challenges so daunting that the Irish government had to shut it down as a tourist site. The damaging floods of winter seemed to fulfill an oracular poem displayed on the tower’s face:

I, the poet William Yeats,
With old mill boards and sea-green slates,
And smithy work from the Gort forge,
Restored this tower for my wife George;
And may these characters remain
When all is ruin once again.

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Thoor Ballylee draws over 3000 visitors

W.B. Yeats’s Thoor Ballylee has drawn well over 3000 visitors from near and far in the three months since its reopening.

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Doors and windows opened in Yeats’s tower, Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway, June 2015, on the occasion of W.B. Yeats 150th birthday.  A local community group, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society has worked tirelessly to make this happen, following the closure of the Tower after flooding six years ago. The society is delighted to report that since the opening there has been a steady flow of visitors, over 3,000 people during the 3-month period. This figure does not even include children who attend free of charge. None of this would have been possible without the help and support of the local community and a staggering 30 volunteers who manned the tower for a total of 800 hours.

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Funds are also steadily rolling in from admissions and also from online donations which means that we hope to be able to maintain the tower as a magnificent visitor experience and literary haven for years to come. We are delighted to say that the Tower will be open throughout September, Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm, Saturday – Sunday 12 – 4pm.

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Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, Chair of the Thoor Ballylee Society, said ‘we would like to thank everyone who has visited the Tower and to all the volunteers who have made this possible. The entire project has been a labour of love and strength of conviction about the need to preserve our literary past and Yeats’ legacy for future generations. Let’s not forget that this is a project the state had abandoned save for the commitment and vision of  local voluntary effort.’

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Angela Guillemet, head of PR and Fundraising for Thoor Ballylee noted ‘No one should be excluded from experiencing the magic of Thoor Ballylee and sharing in the literary heritage that it exudes. We are calling on the local community, business, scholars, the media and on the government to continue their support for the project so ambitious plans to turn the tower into a world class cultural centre can be realised.

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Come and see our audio-visual display, view our exhibitions, stalk the stairs, rooms, and battlements of Yeats’s tower in the poet’s footsteps, meet our bats and friendly helpers, and have a cup of tea. Seasonal opening until the end of September.

And please note there are a number of special events taking place in Thoor Ballylee over the coming weeks:

18 September                  Culture Night: Romantic & Revolutionary Yeats

25-27 September            Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering – talks, dramas, readings – with John Banville

18 October                          Inaugural International Yeats Society visit

21 October                         Lady Gregory: A Galway Life, from London Irish Theatre

27 October                           Harp Festival of Moons – with special guest Caitriona Yeats

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Culture Night: Revolutionary & Romantic Yeats

This Friday 18th September from 7pm Thoor Ballylee opens its doors for Culture Night. With late opening and free admission join us as shadows lengthen and dusk sets at the tower. Explore the interior and meet our resident bats. Or join us for music and dramatic presentations in the cottage.

Culture Night

Revolutionary Yeats

A dramatization of republicanism in Yeats’s  poetry performed by An Tine Beo

preceded by a short representation of

Romantic Yeats

by Gerry Conneely

with welcome & interval music by Coole Music

Coole Music

FREE ADMISSION

7.30pm – 9.30pm

Friday 18th September 2015

at

Thoor Ballylee (Yeats’s Tower)

just off the N18

Ph: 091 631224           http://yeatsthoorballylee.org

Culture night is brought to you by the Dept. of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht in partnership with regional arts offices, local authorities and cultural organisations throughout the island of Ireland.

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Galway Co Council

www.burrenlowlands.org

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Thoor Ballylee open for September

The Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society is delighted to announce in this special anniversary year of Yeats2015, W.B.Yeats’s venerable tower will remain open for the month of September.

Please note: revised opening hours apply: the tower will now be open 10-1 weekdays and 12-4 on weekends. Now on view is a newly restored film about the tower and its resident poet, and an interior unseen for many years.

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As well as viewing from outside the stern Hiberno-Norman defensive tower with its bridge, stream, and pleasant gardens, this summer for the first time in years visitors can come in and view at firsthand the tower and cottage interior.

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Inspect the study and diningroom, imagine the poet’s wife George fishing from the window, cross the threshold of the old bedroom, climb the winding stair, meet our resident bats in the rafters, and pace on the battlements as did Yeats himself, enjoying wonderful 360º views of the surrounding countryside. Then return downstairs to browse our exhibition of local artists, buy keepsakes at our gift shop, talk further with our friendly volunteer guides, or just sit with a complementary cup of tea.

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On show for the first time in our new audio-visual space under slates in the old cottage is a newly-restored film about W.B.Yeats and the tower from RTÉ, written and narrated by the inimitable Yeats scholar, the late Augustine Martin.

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Altogether an unmissable experience. To find out more, contact us, or come and join us as a friend and help us keep this indispensable piece of heritage open for future generations.

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Thoor open daily until September!

Welcome to Thoor Ballylee, the Hiberno-Norman tower described by Seamus Heaney as the most important building in Ireland.

Thanks to our volunteers and donors and sponsors and friends, Thoor Ballylee is still open daily all this summer until September.

Watch our video of Thoor Ballylee opening for Yeats’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday on 13th June 2015.

(Or view here on youtube).

Thoor Ballylee is a fine and well-preserved fourteenth-century tower but its major significance is due to its close association with his fellow Nobel laureate for Literature, the poet W.B.Yeats. It was here the poet spent summers with his family and was inspired to write some of his finest poetry, making the tower his permanent symbol. Due to serious flood damage in the winter of 2009/10 the tower was closed for some years. A local group the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society has come together and are actively seeking funds to ensure its permanent restoration and reopening as a cultural centre. Because of an ongoing fundraising effort and extensive repair and restoration work, the tower and associated cottages can be viewed year round, and thanks to our volunteers are open for the summer months.

Below is Robert Gregory’s vision of the tower and environs, sketched before his death fighting in Italy in the Great War. Once the tower is fully restored it is hoped that once again it will become a cultural and educational centre for reverie and reflection for visitors from around the world. Come and see for yourself, or to find out how you can help click here.

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Robert Gregory, c.1917

 

Hear it in the deep heart’s core

Today at 4pm, Sunday 9th August 2015, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society hosts a benefit concert for the permanent restoration of Thoor Ballylee. Featuring music, poetry and the spoken word, all inspired and drawn from the works of W.B. Yeats, the concert takes place in Yeats’s iconic tower. Listen as Joseph Sobol, master guitarist and performer on a rare 10-string Sobell cittern, alongside vocals by Kathy Cowan, performs a ‘mystic cabaret’ described by the Chicago Sun-Times as ‘rapturous’ and ‘irresistible’. Come along to see the tower resound with musical echoes, and support Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society in its ongoing efforts to restore and reopen the tower permanently.

Yeats Deep Heart's Core cabaret

Here follows a link to Joseph Sobol performing Bach!