Folklore, Archaeology, and William Butler Yeats

2015 is the 150th anniversary year of the birth of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939). Some of his poems, with their celebration of the Ireland of folklore and myth, have inspired our reflections on the mystique of the ancient monuments.

The Rostellan Dolmen

Rostellan Dolmen

Nearly submerged by the tidal waters of Cork Harbor’s Saleen Creek, the Rostellan Dolmen is the only example of such a Leaba Dhiarmada agus Gráinne (Diarmuid and Gráinne’s Bed) in Ireland to wear a garland of seaweed. The story of Diarmuid and Gráinne inspired Yeats’ poem “A Faery Song.”


Tullaghan Hill Holy Well

Tullaghan Hill Well

Yeats’ At the Hawk’s Well was the first English play to use the dramatic form of Japanese Noh Theatre. In this play the dried-up Tullaghan Well was reputed to periodically hold water that would make immortal whoever might have a taste.


Rosses Point

Rosses Point

“Drumcliff and Rosses were, are, and ever shall be, please Heaven! places of unearthly resort. I have lived near by them and in them, time after time, and have gathered thus many a crumb of fairy lore.” — W.B. Yeats


The Black Pig’s Dyke

Black Pig's Dyke

Yeats understood that the legendary Black Pig was in the popular imagination a symbol for the murderous enemies of the Irish people.


Clochafarmore Standing Stone

Black Pig's Dyke

“Those who listened to [the stories of Cúchulainn] must have felt as if the living were like rabbits digging their burrows under walls that had been built by Gods and Giants…”— W.B. Yeats


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