Tuesday 22 October 2019

Poetry fans tread softly on trail of Yeats's most beloved haunts

Poet Seamus Heaney at the launch of the Yeats Trail in City Hall, Sligo, yesterday
Poet Seamus Heaney at the launch of the Yeats Trail in City Hall, Sligo, yesterday

Anita Guidera

The town described as the "cradle of his genius" marked the 70th anniversary of the death of poet William Butler Yeats with the launch of a tourist trail linking the places most associated with him.

In Sligo yesterday afternoon to remember its much-loved son was another Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, who believed Yeats was "bound to be pleased" with the trail, which connects the place names that recur in his writings.

"For the good it is going to do for the region in calling people to it, for the good it will do those who come, for the good it will do his poetry and for our own sense of at-homeness in the work that it reflects, this is an important day," he told a gathering at City Hall.

Earlier, he and his wife Marie attended a special commemorative service in St John's Cathedral.


There, Dean Arfon Williams said the poet was still deeply mourned.

"We are very conscious of the great debt we owe to him -- not only in his literature but this county, which has so many associations with him."

Stella Mews, chief executive officer of the Yeats Society, said that Sligo was the most important place in the poet's life.

"The wealth of history and legend and everything that he loved about life was in Sligo. It was almost like a magnet that drew him back," she said.

Those places most associated with the poet now form a unique Passport Trail, which begins at the Dublin Writers' Museum and invites the visitor to such places as Strandhill, Lough Gill, Ben Bulben and Glencar, with the immortal words: "Come away O human child! To the waters and the wild."

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