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Rocktown, Connacht, Ireland

Yeats Country Drive - Day Two

Around Glencar, past Ben Bulben, to Lissadell, Drumcliffe, Rosses Point and Sligo Town.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 37 miles / 60 km
Duration: Full day
 
Overview: Day Two of the Yeats Country drive takes us to some iconic Yeats sites, including of course his grave in Drumcliffe cemetery. We start off on the N16 to Enniskillen towards Glencar lake in Leitrim, along Ben Bulben then to Lissadell before going to Drumcliffe. With any luck you will have timed it for an early lunch - the Yeats Tavern is a good place to dine.

After lunch, we take you to Rosses Point, one of the more forgotten points of the Yeats trails of yore before taking you into Sligo where we have a number of sites that will easily take up the afternoon and may even require some extra time the following morning if you wish to truly savour the man's work.

Every August there is an international summer school in honour of Yeats with heavy hitters from all over the world attending. We provide details of this school under the Yeats Memorial POI. We also provide lessor known sites like the Pollexfen turret that can still be seen to this day if you know where to look.

We hope you enjoy this drive and that you get the weather than will make it truly stand out in your memory. With it, you can really appreciate why this land held such a bond for Yeats throughout his life. If you enjoy it, ensure you like it on Facebook down below or vote for it on the star system at the top of the page once registered with EveryTrail.


Tips: N.B: Do not use this guide while driving. Please familiarize yourself with the route in advance and ensure you read the directions given in the notes where applicable. NOTE: please read Supported Devices for compatibility and note that the tour is subject to acceptance of our Licence available to read on the right hand column.

Points of Interest

Junction
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Start of Day Two on the N16

DAY TWO: Follow directions for Manorcunningham and Enniskillen - this is the start of the N16, a scenic route that will take you high above Glencar valley on your left within the next five miles.

DIRECTIONS: Ignoring the first sign for the Glencar waterfall, we'll be taking you anti clockwise around the lake to get to the waterfall. Carry on out the N16 and look out for a viewing park of the lake on the left. After this, you will be driving another 2k before turning off left where signposted.
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16 YC Start of N16
Viewpoint
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N16 Glencar viewing point

An excellent (and safe) vantage point from which to see Glencar lake. Please note you will be continuing on the N16 towards Manorhamilton for another 2 kilometres before taking the sharp left for Glencar waterfall - it is signposted.

Address: Off N16 on way to Manorhamilton.
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YC The man who dreamed of fairyland
Parking
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Glencar lake car park

With clean WCs available and adequate parking for everything from buses to motorhomes, this car park may be the best place from which to do a proper walking tour of the area.
Water
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Glencar waterfall

Believed to be the site which inspired The Stolen Child, this is an enthralling place. Make sure you you climb the 100 or so easy steps on the looped walk, right past the waterfall and past the hazel bush where rags or votives have been tied to it where believers have made wishes.

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

DIRECTIONS: After the waterfall, you'll be continuing your anti-clockwise journey around the lake taking you near Ben Bulben.
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19 Glen waterfall
Viewpoint
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Glencar lakeside

One of the many tranquil spots along the lake where the scenery is worth stopping for. In our audio piece, we move away from fairy lore and onto Irish mythology as under Ben Bulben is where the Fianna warriors hunted and where we tell you the story of Diarmaid and Grainne, starting with Grainne.

A Faery Song (sung by the people of Faery over Diarmaid and Grainne, in their bridal sleep under a cromlech)

We who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:
Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:
Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told.

As they were on the run from her husband Fionn McCumhaill, Diarmaid and Grainne (Diarmuid and Grania) are said to have spent the night in the shelter of a cave in Benbulben, known as Diarmaid and Grainne's Bed.
Information
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Diarmaid betrayed

You are now travelling by Ben Bulben where legend has it Diarmaid Ua Duibhne died. Diarmiad, in English, Dermot of the Love Spot had a mole being placed on him by a goddess, which made him irresistible to women. Mary Murphy tells us about it on the audio guide.
Audio
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21 YC Diarmaid
Junction
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Turn LEFT on to N15

After Glencar lake, we want to ensure you stay close to Ben Bulben both to savour the tales of Diarmaid and Grainne as well as setting you up for the next key sites on this tour, being Lissadell then Drumcliffe.
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YC 20 Grainne
Junction
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Carney

You are driving through Carney, a small but well serviced village, with two good restaurants and pubs, a Chinese take away and even a football team called Yeats FC!

DIRECTIONS: Carry on to Lissadell House.

In our audio piece, Mary and Sean give their honest opinion of Yeats and his legacy - it makes for a lively debate! You may hear this piece repeated on your way back to Drumcliffe. The passenger can easily stop the piece if needs be.
Audio
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22 YC Carney
Landmark
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Lissadell House

Please note that Lissadell House had a limited opening season from the 18th August - 21st October 2013, 9am - 1.30pm. The owners won their Supreme Court challenge on the rights of way issue with the Council, but it is yet to be determined whether it will open fully in 2014 - we will update when we known the decision.

Lissadell is famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising; the first woman to be elected to D?il Eireann, where she served as Minister for Labour, and also the first woman to be elected to Westminster Parliament in London.Her brother Josslyn created at Lissadell one of the premier horticultural estates in Europe. Yeats was friendly with the Gore Booths, and has immortalised Lissadell in his poetry.

In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer's wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.
I know not what the younger dreams -
Some vague Utopia - and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
Dear shadows, now you know it all,
All the folly of a fight
With a common wrong or right.
The innocent and the beautiful.
Have no enemy but time;
Arise and bid me strike a match
And strike another till time catch;
Should the conflagration climb,
Run till all the sages know.
We the great gazebo built,
They convicted us of guilt;
Bid me strike a match and blow.

DIRECTIONS: After here, you'll be making your way back to Drumcliffe on the N15.
Audio
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23 Lissadell
Landmark
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Drumcliffe

You are now in the village of Drumcliffe, firmly put on the map when W.B. Yeats was interred here some 9 years after his death in France in 1939. After a long and somber route back from Roquebrune where it lay in state both there and in Sligo Town, he was laid to rest as per his instructions in "Under Ben Bulben". In an ironic twist, the Government was represented by its Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Sean McBride, son of Maud Gonne.
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24 YC Drumcliffe
Parking
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Drumcliffe church car park

NOTE: Make your way here to park safely. From here, take your audio device with you and go to the the front of the church on the right. Yeats's grave is marked in front of you with Ben Bulben visible through the cemetery's trees. If the church is open, ensure you pay it a visit, looking out for the excellent booklet written by Derick Bingham entitled 'The Eye of the Heart'.
Audio
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25 YC Drum car park
Landmark
map

Yeats's Grave

The resting place of Ireland's greatest poet, William Butler Yeats is as near perfect a location as you'd expect for such an evocative wordsmith. In the final two stanzas of Under Ben Bulben, Yeats declared: -

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

DIRECTIONS: We'll be turning left on to the N15 coming out of the car park and heading towards Rosses' Point. We'll alert you when to turn off.
Junction
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Rathcormack

Rathcormack is a small village at the base of a valley. Rising on a brae from it towards Sligo, get ready to turn right at the top of the brae for Rosses Point - it is signposted although please note the sign is for Kintogher.

Of note in this village is the memorial to Countess Markievitz at the bottom of the brae on the left.

Address:Rathcormrack on the N15 north.
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27 YC Rathcormack
Viewpoint
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Rosses Point

Yeats loved Rosses Point and first experimented with the paranormal here, encouraged by his cousin's housekeeper who had the ‘second sight'. Today excellent restaurants and pubs meet all your needs – even if they can't predict your future! Yeats stayed at Elsinore House when he was in Rosses Point. It is now a ruin and is just below the statue in the picture above on the way to the pier. There's talk every few years of doing up the derelict site, but as you'll see, nothing has happened.

DIRECTIONS: After Rosses Point, make your way back to Sligo Town. In town, we have listed the key Yeats sites you may wish to visit.

Address:By the pier off the R291.
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28 YC Rosses Point
Hotel
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Sligo Town

You are now returning to Sligo Town after your whirlwind tour. Those still in need of more Yeats can find a number of key sights in Sligo town either from this guide or our full Sligo Heritage audio guide.

Ensure you visit all the points of interest regarding Yeats that are marked in this guide - Yeats Memorial Building, Yeats Statue, Sligo County Museum, St. John's Cathedral & Polloxfen's House.

NOTE: Download the free audio heritage tour that we've produced for Sligo town. Simply click on the link below to download. Loads of Yeats points as well as other stories concerning heritage and the arts.
Audio
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29 YC Sligo town
Landmark
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S-1. Yeats Memorial Building

On Hyde Bridge, the Yeats Society's Headquarters houses the offices of the International Summer School, the Sligo Art Gallery and a photographic exhibition on the Yeats Family and Sligo – all worth a visit.

Address:
Hyde bridge, Sligo.
Phone: +353719142693
Email: info@yeats-sligo.com
URL: www.yeats-sligo.com
Audio
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YC The Scholars
Landmark
map

S-2. Yeats Statue

Outside the Ulster Bank stands a striking contemporary sculpture by artist Rowan Gillespie of the poet ‘wrapt in this words' erected by the people of the town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death in 1989.

Accepting the Nobel Prize for literature from the Swedish King in 1924, Yeats remarked that the Italianate style Royal Palace in Stockholm reminded him of the Ulster Bank in Sligo – hence the position!
Landmark
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S-3. Sligo County Museum

Sligo Library and County Museum are located together, with the library being housed in a former Presbyterian Church, designed and built by architects Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon in 1851.

The Yeats Room here is full of manuscripts, photographs, letters and newspaper cuttings associated with the local poet William Butler Yeats and a complete collection of his poems from 1889 to 1936.

Also in the museum you will see paintings by Irish artists George Russell, Sean Keating and Jack. B. Yeats, brother of the poet William Butler Yeats.There is also a display of artefacts and memorabilia associated with Countess Constance Markievicz and her sister, Eva Gore-Booth.

Address:
Stephen Street, Sligo.
Phone: +353719141623
Email: sligolib@sligococo.ie
URL: www.sligococo.ie
Landmark
map

S-4. Polloxfen's house

This iconic house overlooking Sligo docks was home to Yeats's grandfather Pollexfen. It maintains a Yeats connection as it is now called Markievicz House. Look out for the Diarmiad and Grainne plaque on the front wall.
Audio
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YC Sailing to Byzantium
Landmark
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S-5. St. John's Cathedral

On the wall near the pulpit of this cathedral, there is a brass plaque dedicated to the memory of Susan Mary Yeats, mother of William Butler and Jack. B. Yeats. Mary Butler Yeats was the eldest daughter of William Pollexfen, who married John Butler Yeats on 10th September 1863 in this very church, she died in London in 1900. William Pollexfen, grandfather of William Butler Yeats and Jack. B. Yeats, is buried near the main gate, in a tomb with low walls and black chains surrounding it.

The original design of St Johns Cathedral was influenced by the old basilica pattern of the early Roman architecture, though sadly, many of these original features of the church were lost during extensive renovations carried out in 1812 and in 1883, when gothic features replaced much of Cassels work.

An unusual feature of the graveyard is the fact that it contains a peculiar kind of clay which is said to prevent the decay of bodies buried within it. Instead, the bodies are converted into Adipocere, a soft waxy substance which can last indefinitely.
Audio
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YC He wishes for the cloths of Heaven
Viewpoint
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S-6. Pollexfen's Turret

Make your way down the narrow alleyway pictured on your device to get to the best location from which to see Pollexfen's turret as well as Queen Maeve's cairn in the distance on Knocknarea. By the tourist signage, you should be able to see the turret to the right and the cairn to its left in the distance.

This unusual sight marks the end of the tour, we hope your viewing has been as productive as Pollexfen's own - please let others know if you enjoyed this tour and thank you for listening.

Address: Wine street car park, Sligo.
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YC Circus animals disertion
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Yeats Country Drive - Day Two Map


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