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Thoor Ballylee

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Thoor Ballylee, home of William Butler Yeats

Thoor Ballylee was Yeats's monument and symbol; in both aspects it had multiple significance. It satisified his desire for a rooted place in a known countryside, not far from Coole and his life-long friend Lady Gregory.To live in a Tower complemented, perhaps, his alignment with a tradation of cultivated aristocracy which he had envied and a leisured peace which he had enjoyed.

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The tower or castle that Yeats bought was a sixteeneth century norman castle built by the family de Burgo, or Burke. It consisted of four floors with one room on each, connected by a spiral stone stairway built into the seven-foot thickness of the massive outer wall. Each floor had a window overlooking the river which flowed alongside. At the top here was a flat roof reached by a final steep flight of steps from the floor below.

The tower had to be restored before Yeats could live in it. By the summer of 1919 Yeats and his wife and daughter had moved in. Yeats mentions Ballylee in a letter to Maud Gonne May 1918.

' We hope to be in Ballylee in a month and there I dream of making a house that may encourage people to avoid ugly manufactured things - an ideal poor man's house. Except a very few things imported as models we should get all made in Galway or Limerick. I am told that our neighbours are pleased that we are not getting 'grand things but old irish furniture'.

After the Yeats family moved out in 1929 it fell into disuse , but was restored as 'Yeats Tower' in 1965 and fitted out as a Yeats museum, containing an interesting collection of first editions as well as items of furniture. The adjoining cottage is fitted out as a tea room and shop. The tower has been wired for sound and a pre-recorded commentary can be played on a push-button system. In addition part of the ground floor has been adapted for an audio-visual presentation on the years of Yeats's occupancy.

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