The spirit of Yeats lives on in his former abode at Thoor Ballylee in County Galway, writes Dermot Lane
While the bones of W.B. Yeats may (or may not!) be buried in beautiful Drumcliff Cemetery in the shadow of Benbulben, if his spirit lingers any place on Earth – something the poet himself believed was possible – then that place is surely Thoor Ballylee near the market town of Gort in County Galway.
With its magnificent location on the banks of the Streamstown River and the breathtaking views from the roof over the rolling Galway countryside, the ancient tower must have seemed like the perfect abode for the poet. The location and history of the tower and its rural location in a place such as Ballylee satisfied Yeats’ desire to be connected with the past. He wrote: ‘I declare this tower is my symbol; I declare
This winding, gyring, spiring treadmill of a stair is my ancestral stair.’
Yeats’ love of the West of Ireland and his close association with his dear friend and mentor Lady Gregory, who lived nearby in Coole Estate, were instrumental in his choice of the tower as a home.
Coole at this time was a hub of creativity and was the centre of the Irish literary revival, spearheaded by Yeats and Lady Gregory.