Drumcliffe still a draw for Yeats fans, says festival head

Emergence of new documents cast doubt over whether poet’s remains buried in Sligo

Students arriving for the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo this weekend will continue to visit the poet's grave in Drumcliffe, according to Yeats Society president who stressed, "nothing will change".

Martin Enright said a visit to the grave remained a highlight for students attending the school, despite the emergence of new documents that cast doubt over whether his remains are buried there.

"If you stand by his grave, Ben Bulben is framed by the trees," said Mr Enrightwho has insisted recently discovered French diplomatic correspondence does not prove that none of Yeats remains are buried in Drumcliffe.

“If you were trying to select one place to commemorate Yeats, Drumcliffe would be the number one,” Mr Enright added.


He said Ben Bulben was close to the poet’s heart and, only days beforehis death, Yeats had changed the title of one of his poems to ‘Under Ben Bulben’.

Students from Korea, Brazil, Hungary, Canada, the US, Britain and Ireland are due to attend the 56th Yeats summer school, which will be offically opened on Sunday by writer Joe O'Connor.

An academic highlight this year will be a round-table discussion featuring several of its former directors including Denis Donoghue, Professor Emeritus of English at NYU, who was president of the first Yeats summer school in 1960.

He will be joined by John Kelly, professor at St. John's College Oxford , James Pethica, Irish Literature Professor, Williams College, Massachusetts, Declan Kiberd, professor of Irish Studies and English at the University of Notre Dame, Jonathan Allison, professor of English University of Kentucky Prof Patrick Crotty, University of Aberdeen, professor Elizabeth Cullingford, University of Texas, Barbara Hardy, professor Emeritus, Birbeck University of London and Ron Schuchard, professor Emeritus of English at Emory University.

Aside from the academic discussions, Sligo is also hosting the ‘Tread Softly’ festival in conjunction with the summer school which has an eclectic programme of outdoor theatre, art and music.

Local company Blue Raincoat is celebrating the theatre of W B Yeats by bringing all 26 of his plays to outdoor venues in the county over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

After being forced to abandon plans to stage Yeats’s play ‘Purgatory’ on top of Ben Bulben last weekend because of weather, they will in the coming weeks bring hundreds of fans onto the 526 meter high summit for the performance.

Portraits of Yeats by 50 Irish artists are being exhibited in the Hamilton gallery in Sligo while cartoonist Annie West, sculptor Bettina Seitz and photographer Ciaran McHugh will exhibit new work inspired by the writer.

Meanwhile Paul Young, founder of the twice Oscar nominated Cartoon Saloon, has opened the Boyle Arts Festival which continues until August 1st.

The programme features writers Kevin Barry and Belinda McKeon, actors Mary McEvoy and Jon Kenny, the Henry Girls and former Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy who is conversation on Saturday with RTÉ journalist Carole Coleman.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland