W. B. Yeats’ inspirational places in Ireland

WB Yeats Inspirational places in Ireland

W. B. Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)

The poet, William Butler Yeats, drew his artistic inspiration from his homeland Ireland, especially from Sligo and other parts of the west of Ireland. Often considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest poets. W. B. Yeats was born in Sandymount, Dublin on 13 June 1865. He was educated between Dublin and London, and he started to study poetry from a young age, at which stage he began to find the rich tapestry of Irish mythology, occult and legends to be utterly fascinating.

Yeats inspirational Ireland Lough Gill

Lough Gill, Sligo

By Niallio77 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

From an early age, he spent summer holidays in Sligo with relatives, and from the poet’s connection to county Sligo and other parts of the west, these spots became his most important inspirational landscapes.  In 1923, W. B. Yeats, won The Nobel Prize in Literature “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”.

W. B. Yeats inspirational Ireland-Rainbow over Knocknarea

Rainbow over Knocknarea

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the Collected Works in Verse and Prose of William Butler Yeats, 1908 volume, he wrote:

“When I first wrote I went here and there for my subjects as my reading led me, and preferred to all other countries Arcadia and the India of romance, but presently I convinced myself … that I should never go for the scenery of a poem to any country but my own, and I think that I shall hold to that conviction to the end.”

1. Renvyle, Connemara. Co. Galway

The first inspirational place of the Yeats Route is Renvyle, in Connemara, where W. B. Yeats spent his honeymoon. I start with it because it is also the inspirational spot of my own childhood holidays. Set in the dramatic, wild, rugged landscape of Connemara, with its palette of purples, yellows, greens and blues, Renvyle has been embedded in my heart since childhood.

Landscape and Coast Connemara Clifden Ireland-1

Landscape and Coast Connemara Clifden Ireland

This place was my first travel destination, going there from the age of three; Renvyle became like a second home to me, offering the perfect, stark contrast to my native city of Dublin. It was there that I felt my own inner wildness, a deep connection with nature and a feeling of freedom that was exhilarating and thrilling. Connemara created lifelong memories and experiences that have left a magical mark on me.

W. B. Yeats inspirational Ireland Renvyle white strand

Renvyle white strand

Photo credit: Outdoor Swimming

W.B. Yeats and his bride, Georgie Hyde-Lee, were some of the earlier guests to stay at the hotel, which was then owned by the author and poet, Oliver St John Gogarty. He described Renvyle as a place where, “travelled men and children will find contentment and joy”. I certainly did.

W. B. Yeats inspirational Ireland Mweelrea and Renvyle

Mweelrea and Renvyle

By Michael Clarke Stuff (Mweelrea and Renvyle 01HDR) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Yeats couple, who were both fascinated with mysticism, were the perfect guests to go to Renvyle, as it is also renowned to be haunted. Mrs. Yeats felt she had psychic abilities, so she communicated with the restless spirit, who apparently identified himself as the fourteen year-old, Athelstone Blake, who had died in the eighteenth century. The spirit told Mrs.Yeats that he would stop disturbing the living, if he was “placated with incense and flowers”.

I remember that there was still talk of this ghost when I was there, as a child in the hotel. Today the 4-star hotel is known as Renvyle House Hotel & Resort. I haven’t been for a long time, but I remember it as a very warm welcoming place, where there was lots to do as a child, and at night there used to be traditional Irish sing-songs in the bar.

Renvyle House Hotel & Resort Connemara

Renvyle House Hotel & Resort Connemara

If like me, you love to be in nature, then another good option at Renvyle, is the Renvyle Beach Caravan & Camping Park. As I haven’t personally tried this out as yet, I think this lady’s review will be more helpful for you:

“You haven’t really lived until you stay on this lovely campsite on this beautiful beach (the campsite has it’s own part of the beach). The campsite itself was just wonderful, very well run and perfect to de-stress. We brought our caravan for a six night stay and ended up staying for over two weeks – many tears were shed when we eventually had to return home!

Renvyle Beach Caravan & Camping Park beach

Renvyle Beach

Photo credit: Renvyle Beach Caravan & Camping Park

The site is a meadow of wild flowers, orchids, bedstraws, clover, meadowsweet and purple loosestrife to name but a few, you are completely surrounded by beauty. The beach is one of the most gorgeous I have ever been on – so clean with white sand and clear turquoise water. The beach is overlooked by Tully mountain which is often topped with fluffy white clouds. Do not miss this site! Can’t wait to return and thank you Pauline for a wonderful stay. ” Louise

Renvyle Beach Caravan & Camping Park beach-1

Renvyle Beach

Photo credit: Renvyle Beach Caravan & Camping Park

2. Ballisodare, Co. Sligo 146 km (90 miles) on N59

Head north on the N59 to visit Ballisodare in County Sligo, which was one of the places where the Yeats children spent their summer holidays. William Butler Yeats stayed at Avena House, which was the home of William Middleton, his grand-uncle.

Yeats inspirational Ireland Ballisodare Bay-3

Ballisodare Bay

Photo credit: Rent by Owner

Even though the family was of the Protestant Ascendancy, they were happy to associate with the locals, both in Ballisodare and also in Rosses Point, that will be featured a little further along this route. This meant that the young W. B. Yeats was exposed to country stories and Irish mythology, which awakened this lifelong interest in him. It was in Ballisodare that he heard an old woman singing the folk song, that inspired him to write the poem, Down by the Sally Gardens.

Yeats inspirational Ireland Ballisodare Bay

Ballisodare Bay

Photo credit: Rent by Owner

Avena House is a private house, but you can explore the area and engage with the locals, to see what kind of country stories and mythology they may share with you. Look out over Ballisodare Bay for inspiration, and be sure to visit the Ballisodare Falls.

3. Sligo Town, 9.1 km (5.65 miles) on N4

Continuing north, take the N4 to travel to Sligo Town. Two of the main highlights here are the Yeats Memorial Building and the wonderful Yeats statue, that you can’t miss. The Yeats Society is based in the Yeats Memorial Building, right in the heart of the town, overlooking the River Garavogue. Summer schools about Yeats have been running there for around forty years. There is a library and a DVD collection of previous lectures from the summer school. All year round, there is a varied programme of visits, activities, lectures and events.

Yeats inspirational Ireland Sligo at night

Sligo at night

By Niallio77 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The striking Yeats statue is situated outside the Ulster Bank, which is across from the river, on the corner of Markievicz Road and Stephen Street. Erected on the 50th anniversary of his death, in 1989, the statue, which looks over to the Yeats Memorial Building, was created by the sculptor, Ronan Gillespie. A fantastic, flamboyant work, the poet is made larger and dressed in a jacket, that is reminiscent of wings. All of his clothing is covered in words, which of course, are excerpts of his poetry.

Yeats inspirational Ireland Yeats statue Sligo

W. B. Yeats statue

By en:The.Q [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credits & thanks

For the collage featured photo on the top of this feature, we would like to thank and credit the following artists:

W. B. Yeats by Alice Boughton (Whyte’s) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Renvyle Beach by Connemara Wild Escapes

2 Comments on “W. B. Yeats’ inspirational places in Ireland”

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