Monday, July 06, 2009

Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park

William Butler Yeats lived in this tower with his wife and children between 1918 and 1929.

Frenchclass: can you decipher this? Do not cheat with a translator! I could get the gist of it, except for certain vocabulary that we haven't covered, possibly from the "Norman castle of Thoor Ballylee" chapter, which is probably a second year topic. Perhaps Madame Professeur will decipher it in class next year. *

There are four levels, sort of, in the tower. This bridge was blown up during the civil war in Ireland, which began after the Easter Rising of 1916.

The civil war brought action to this part of County Galway. Look how close the bridge is to the house...

This is the first floor, with fireplace and living area.

The tower's origins are not known, but are said to be of Norman origin, built in the 16th century. It certainly looks like it was built for defense, with tiny windows all over the place just large enough to shoot arrows from.

The snug bedroom, again, with fireplace.

Adorable castle-y door.

This would have been a child's dream playhouse, with all of the miniature spaces and corridors that lead to windows and hiding places. It would not have been a dream for the parents of small children. Here is the spiralling stone staircase of dizzying, serious head injury potential:

I would hate to have been the one to haul firewood to each room, but I would have been first to volunteer to clean the roof. Check out the view:

These are my adorable friends. They are sweet and impossibly youthful.

What is Coole Park? It is the homesite of Lady Gregory, Yeats' patron and friend. It's just a few kilometers (and miles) from Thoor Ballylee. The home was torn down as a result of backlash against large landholders, but the site is still there. There is a giftshop and teashop in the old stables, and gardens to wander.

This is the autograph tree, where Lady Gregory encouraged her visitors to carve their initials in the bark of a Copper Beech, behind us.

Can you make out W...B...Y?

Yeah, me neither, from this photograph.

This is George Bernard Shaw's, and you can definitely see a large "G" and a "B" and kind of the "S". Luckily, he made these letters large.

The group of writers which passed in and through Lady Gregory's life read like a list of the greatest writers of the era: J.M. Synge, Sean O'Casey, George Moore, Shaw, Yeats, Tennyson, and the like. What an incredible gathering.

The experience of visiting the land where Yeats walked, where he wrote, was difficult to describe. Inspiring? Yes, but that is not even close.

Yeats came from a family that was Anglo-Irish, meaning Protestant. He established the Abbey Theater with Lady Gregory.

There is so much to read, so much to learn!

The Wild Swans at Coole

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still

----- Yeats

* The text reads as follows: "En Irlande, nombre histoires sont cachées dans les ruines conquises par le lierre, dans les châteaux effondrés, dans les tours décapitees, gris vestiges d'une grandeur passée parmi lesquels errent des chouettes inquiètes et des fontomes inapaisés. Thoor Ballylee résiste à la'assaut du temps, fière et orgueilleuse, préservant dans ses murs des souvenirs envoûtants. C'est au-delà d'un vieux pont traversant la rivière que le poete William Butler Yeats a connu etre 1918 et 1928 les moments les plus heureux de sa vie sentimentale et artistique. Thoor Ballylee devient pour le poète un lieu d'epanouissement, mais aussi le symbole puissant de son enracinement, de son amour irrévocable pour son..."

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