Sunday 26 March 2017

Death bed photo of Yeats goes on show

Anita Guidera

A RARE photograph of poet WB Yeats, taken shortly before his death, went on public display for the first time at the weekend at Lissadell House.

The ancestral home of Countess Constance Markievicz has been reopened to the public, having been closed for 18 months because of a dispute over alleged rights of way.

The photograph of the poet, who regularly visited the Co Sligo house, forms part of a new exhibition in the Yeats Gallery, which was officially opened by poet and singer Leonard Cohen, who performed two concerts on the grounds of the house last weekend.

The picture, taken by his wife George days before his death in 1939, shows the poet lying on a bed, a cat sitting on his knee.

There is also a photograph of the ship bearing the coffin of Yeats back to Ireland from Switzerland for burial in Drumcliff Churchyard.

Lissadell owners Eddie Walsh and Constance Cassidy gave one of two first-edition books of Yeats's poetry as a gift to Cohen, a WB fan.

Over the weekend, hundreds of visitors walked through the converted coach house complex to view the exhibition, worth an estimated €250,000, and three other exhibitions.

The family decided to reopen the house and gardens following the success of the Leonard Cohen and Westlife concerts. Estate manager Isobel Cassidy said that they were "over the moon'' with the turnout.

Later this year, High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon is expected to deliver judgment in the row between Sligo County Council and the owners of Lissadell over whether public rights of way exist on the estate. Costs are expected to hit €1m.

Irish Independent

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