Wednesday 29 March 2017

Monuments to our national lack of self-respect litter the country

From heritage sites to our capital's streets, the sense of self-loathing and decay speaks volumes, writes Colum Kenny

FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY: The inscription on a stone at Ballylee, above, once home to WB Yeats, below, which will reopen after four years but will close again the next day
FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY: The inscription on a stone at Ballylee, above, once home to WB Yeats, below, which will reopen after four years but will close again the next day
Colum Kenny

Colum Kenny

YEATS' tower in Co Galway is deserted and the area overgrown. I felt like I had stepped outside time when I visited Ballylee last weekend.

A broken sign points to the locked-up medieval castle and thatched cottage that housed Ireland's greatest poet during the civil war. The following year, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

For an hour, I had to myself what in some countries would be a carefully maintained and thronged heritage site. Even the picnic area was sealed off and neglected. On a glorious day in mid-summer, one car passed. But you do not have to travel down a remote boreen near Gort to get a sense of decay and self-loathing. Just walk along our capital's main street, named in honour of a great Irishman, and around to Parnell Square, named in honour of another. Their condition speaks volumes about our self-respect.

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