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14/06/2013 -

Yeats Day 2013 a great success!

Poetry, painting, song, craft and food; was all on the menu for Sligo’s second annual Yeats Day celebration throughout the town on Thursday June 13, birthday of Nobel Prize Winning poet WB Yeats.

The day was a dawn to dusk celebration not just of Sligo’s Nobel Laureate and his works, but also of his brother Jack, one of the country’s most significant painters of the last century, and his sisters Susan and Elizabeth- who made an enormous contribution to the Gaelic art and crafts revival in the early 20th century.

The highlight was the birthday celebrations on O’Connell Street, Sligo with poetry, balloons, birthday cake and music. Actor Michael Fish’ made a fascinating interpretation of WB Yeats Nobel Prize winning speech, delivered in Stockholm, Sweden in December 1923. The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Yeats for his “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”.

Yeats Day 2013 activity
'Choral Yeats' group in full voice reciting WB Yeats

Yeats actual Nobel prize was (and still is!) on display at the County Library and Museum, Stephen Street, Sligo. To celebrate the prize, restaurants in Sligo served a variety of foods, based on the theme of sausages and wine, the food that WB celebrated with when he was told he had won the prize. Apparently it was the only food he had in the house!

Yeats Day 2013 activity
- Some of 'Choral Yeats' younger members take centre stage

Central Library also held 'Choral Yeats - Children in costume recite Yeats poetry' which was a great success for all involved and provided much entertainment for the large crowd in attendance.

The Hamilton Gallery launched a Gathering-inspired exhibition of Irish American art, inspired by what WB Yeats called Numberless Dreams.

The National Gallery joined with The Model in hosting the renowned Jack B Yeats expert Professor Hilary Pyle who gave a lunch-time talk on Jack’s collection at The Model. The National Library made material available for exhibition in Pollexfen House, home of WB Yeats’ mother Susan Pollexfen. It was also the headquarters of the Pollexfen family business, the Sligo Steam Navigation Company.

The Hawk’s Well Theatre hosted a conversation with Senator Fiach MacConghail, director of the Abbey Theatre, to discuss Yeats and his role in the Abbey. 

Sligo based band 'No Crows' brought their magic to Sligo Abbey to end the day’s celebrations. Events were held in Tokyo, Sacramento, Taipei and London to celebrate the international reach and influence of the man who called Sligo his ‘spiritual home’.

This year the event includes the launch of a 10 day rescheduled and re branded Craftfest Northwest festival honouring W.B.’s sisters Susan and Elizabeth – affectionately named Lily and Lolly by her siblings. Susan (Lily) was a keen embroiderist. Elizabeth (Lolly) trained under the renowned artist and textile designer William Morris in London. She was an artist and the main inspiration for the Cuala Press which she ran with her sister. They printed the work of WB Yeats and many other well-known writers including Ezra Pound, Douglas Hyde, Rabindranath Tagore and Elizabeth Bowen. The LilyLolly Craftfest will build on the success in recent years of the Northwest Craftfest. The rebranded and rescheduled festival – promoted by Made in Sligo craft wrokers group – will now be launched on Yeats day every year.

For further information on the upcoming Season of Yeats events please visit



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