A red-bricked Victorian once belonging to the Royal Bank stands on the corner of the Hyde bridge in Sligo Town. Presented to the Yeats Society in 1973, it is the headquarters of the Yeats International Summer Festivals and houses the Yeats Society Library, the Sligo Art Gallery, and a photographic collection of Yeats and his family.
It might seem a bit odd that the Yeats Society would be housed in Sligo, especially when you consider that Yeats was born in Dublin, lived much of his life in England and France, and is buried at Drumcliffe. Yet, Sligo, for those who know his poetry, was a sort of spiritual home for William Butler Yeats. It was the birthplace of his mother, Susan, who brought him and his brother, Jack, on holidays to spend time with her parents at Rosses Point.
In 1894, Yeats met Lady Gregory of Coole Park and together, they collaborated on research into Irish myth and legend, a subject which fascinated them both. By that time, Yeats had already published three volumes of poetry, but his fascination with Irish legend added anew slant to his writing. His poetry is filled with references to Sligo, its myths, legends, and folklore; the people he met and loved here, and the places which meant so much to him. His passion for Sligo remained throughout his life. He so aptly referred to Sligo as "the land of heart's desire where beauty has no ebb."
In 1923, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Even then, Sligo was not far from his thoughts. It is said that in the Royal Palace-when receiving his award-Yeats commented that the palace reminded him of Ulster Bank in Sligo!
Open all year. Bookings for tours, information on festival times, and related events available at firstname.lastname@example.org . Cafe, Coffee Shoppe, and Gift Shoppe on premises.
How to get there:
From Dublin: N4 to Sligo Town (214 km).
From Belfast: A6 to Derry, then A5 to Lifford, N15 to Sligo Town.
Yeats Building and Memorial Centre
Sligo Town, Co. Sligo
T: 071 914 2693
Written by Joy Davis - Summer of Travel 2007