Saturday 24 August 2019

Arts... 10 ways to love Yeats in 2015

It's the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.B. Yeats. Prepare for a year-long party, writes Anna Coogan

Arise and go now: There is a host of events to celebrate the 150th birthday of the world famous man of letters W.B. Yeats
Arise and go now: There is a host of events to celebrate the 150th birthday of the world famous man of letters W.B. Yeats

Anna Coogan

'There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met" William Butler Yeats said once, and Yeats2015 - a year-long programme of cultural and artistic events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel prize-winning poet - will undoubtedly make new friends out of gathered strangers.

There's plenty to celebrate, not least Yeats receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in December 1923, the first Irish man to do so.

Meanwhile, last month marked 110 years since the first performance at the Abbey Theatre, which was founded by W. B. Yeats and his friend, Lady Augusta Gregory.

So where can admirers of the poet convene for Yeats2015 and what's certain to be a convivial 12-month-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth - the date of which is Saturday, June 13?

1. Decipher Yeats's writing.

The exhibition Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, features thousands of written items by or relating to Yeats.

2. Soak up scholarship.

The 56th Yeats International Summer School in Sligo will see distinguished lecturers including Denis Donoghue, of New York University, discuss Yeats's work.

Running from July 26 to August 7, there'll be poetry workshops with Eavan Boland.

3. Eat birthday cake.

Yeats Day celebrates the 150th anniversary of Yeats's birth on June 13 - however Sligo, where Yeats grew up, will host a four-day festival, with guests including author Edna O'Brien and Irish Poet Laureate Paula Meehan. A large birthday cake will be baked in Yeats's honour.

4. Visit Yeats country.

That Yeats loved Sligo is evident throughout his work, so why not take a trip to Innisfree, climb Knocknarea or visit the Salley Gardens?

5. See the swans at Coole.

Coole Park was the home of Lady Gregory and the source of inspiration for many of Yeats's poems including The Wild Swans at Coole and In the Seven Woods. Coole Park was also the centre of the Irish Literary Revival movement - Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O'Casey all experienced its magic.

Coole Park will host a series of events throughout the year for Yeats2015.

6. Winter with Yeats.

Yeats Winter School will run from January 23 to 26 in Sligo, and give visitors an opportunity to learn more about the writer and his family. Guest speakers will include Declan Kiberd and Theo Dorgan.

In the spring, UCD Library will hold a colloquium entitled A Writer Young and Old: Yeats at 150 which will explore W. B. Yeats's contribution to the printing of poetry in twentieth-century Ireland.

7. Sail to Byzantium.

Yeats co-founded the Abbey Theatre, and Bastard Amber is a major new work by leading Irish choreographer Liz Roche, in which dancers conjure up a lustrous Byzantine world of contradictory influences partly inspired by W.B. Yeats's seminal poem Sailing to Byzantium. It's the first time an Irish choreographer has been commissioned to create a dance work for the Abbey Theatre's main stage, and Bastard Amber will open on Monday, May 25.

8. Visit The Candlelight Salon

The Model, the award- winning art gallery in Sligo, will celebrate Yeats with the captivating Psychic Lighthouse exhibition, Yeats-inspired family days, and The Candlelight Salon - a must-visit creative chat session and a programme of music and film inspired by Yeats.

9 Become inspired.

The National Gallery, Kildare Street, will host an NGI Study Morning: Visualising the West on Saturday February 28, from 10am to 1.30pm, featuring readings to mark 150 years since the birth of W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) with actor Denis Conway.

10. Record Yeats.

Make your own recording of a Yeats poem and share it with the world on the Yeats2015 website.

For more details on this or any of the above events, check out

For Yeats2015, why not make your own recording of a Yeats poem and share it with the world on the Yeats2015 website. The website aims to create the world's largest audio archive of recordings of his immense collection of poems. Many well-known poets, actors, writers, musicians, academics, politicians and journalists are already helping to create this archive.

For more details on this or any of the above, check out

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