County Galway’s Streamstown River reflects the blue sky, accented by radiant green moss-shrouded trees in the woodlands surrounding Thoor Ballylee, once home of famed Irish Poet and Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats.
A short distance up the river from this spot is Yeats’ former home — the 15th or 16th Century Norman Castle he purchased in 1916 or 1917. The Tower House had been part of Coole Park, the estate of his lifelong friend, Lady Gregory.
Flooding by the river had damaged Thoor Ballylee in 1995 and again in 2009 forcing its closure — it had been restored and was operating as a Yeats museum since 1965 with the support of the Irish Tourism Board.
Budgetary problems were preventing the repairs and maintenance of the castle, and it appeared doomed to fall into ruin yet again until a local non-profit group, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society stepped in to reopen this literary landmark to the public again just in time for the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birthday on June 13, 2015.
The Society has launched a fund-raising program with a goal of €1 million Euro to develop and maintain Thoor Ballylee as a cultural center and destination for literary tourism.
A substantial donation has already insured the site will be open this summer — plumbing and electrical work is underway now.
This is such a wonderful example of how local people can join together to save history!