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Saturday 21 October 2017

Yeats was here – poet's secret city address 'discovered'

Fiona Ross, of the National Library, Dr Maureen Concannon and Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan at 96 Stephen's Green
Fiona Ross, of the National Library, Dr Maureen Concannon and Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan at 96 Stephen's Green
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

IT remained a secret for almost a century, until a chance encounter at the National Library just five years ago confirmed that the Nobel laureate poet WB Yeats had lived at two addresses on St Stephen's Green.

Dr Maureen Concannon, a psychologist who has lived at number 96 St Stephen's Green for the past 30 years, said she was delighted to learn that she lived under the same roof that was briefly the home of Yeats and his wife George Hyde-Lees during the winter of 1918-1919.

The Dublin-born poet and playwright was notorious for moving around, and had lived at no less than 17 known addresses in Ireland and the UK.

But it was by fluke that Dr Concannon – whose campaigning stopped the Georgian building and others like it on St Stephen's Green from being bulldozed during the 70s – learned the secret of number 96's previous tenant. A friend of hers happened to see a reference to the address at the National Library of Ireland's WB Yeats exhibit, and the connection between Yeats and the 245-year-old terrace house was made.

They learned that the poet and his new wife, who was heavily pregnant with their daughter Anne at the time, had moved into the home of his long-time muse and unrequited love Maud Gonne while she was serving time at London's Holloway Prison for anti-war activities. That was a few doors away at number 73 Stephen's Green.

But when she returned to Dublin Yeats refused to let her back into her own home – citing his wife's delicate pregnancy and the possibility of a raid by authorities.

The ensuing confrontation led the poet and his wife to move to number 96. She made the comments at a reception in the house yesterday, where Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan officially unveiled a plaque outside that simply states: 'WB Yeats, poet and statesman lived here 1918-1919'.

Irish Independent

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