Yeats-link 19th century house could face demolition

Sat, Mar 14, 2009, 00:00

A LANDMARK 19th century house overlooking Sligo port, once owned by W B Yeats’s grandparents, is under threat.

Sligo Borough Council has confirmed there is a recommendation in the recently published draft Sligo Environs Development Plan that Markievicz House be removed from the list of protected structures. If the elected members vote to delist the building, which in the late 1800s was home to Yeats’s maternal grandparents William and Elizabeth Pollexfen, it clears the way for its demolition.

Now owned by the HSE, the house was formerly known as Charlemont House, and according to the book The Yeats Country by Sheelah Kirby, some of the poet’s letters carry that address.

Stella Mew, chief executive of the Yeats Society, which is preparing for the 50th International Yeats Summer School this summer, said Sligo’s Yeatsian heritage was being  “whittled away piece by piece”.

“Luckily  Ben Bulben and Knocknarea  are sacrosanct – they cannot delist the mountains or they might be at risk too,” she said.

The house is mentioned in the Yeats Trail which was launched in Sligo by Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney in January, on the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Michael Keohane, who was president of the Yeats Society in 2003 when the Borough Council previously voted to delist Markievicz House, said all he could do was echo Yeats and say “They have disgraced themselves again”.

Independent councillor Declan Bree, whose motion that the house be retained on the protected list was passed by one vote in December 2003 – some months after councillors had voted to delist it – accused  council officials of “paying lip service to Sligo’s Yeatsian heritage”.