The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper—WB YeatsIreland Before You Die
Ireland is a beautiful country with rolling green fields, rugged landscapes, and a land of green. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and would definitely go again. On this trip the Bestie and I did the northern part of Ireland. We started in Dublin, drove north to the Giants Causeway, down through Donegal and Galway, and to the cliffs of Moher. We were fortunate enough to drive which meant we were able to take stops along the way and one of those stops was the grave of Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats.
I’ve read a quite a bit of Irish literature. I remember back in undergraduate and having my first exposure was to James Joyce. I read Dubliners and Ulysses for a philosophy class. I remember both books quite vividly and have read them from time to time over the years. I have also enjoyed the Importance of Being Earnest and a Woman of No Consequence on stage. I’ve read most of Eoin Colfer and Gulliver’s Travels, enjoyed Yates with a cup of tea, discussed Dracula at book club, and delighted in Pygmalion. So, when I had the chance to swope by and pay my respects to one my favorites, I took it.
Yeats was born in Sandymount in 1865, was educated in Dublin and London, spent childhood holidays in Sligo, and was buried there. He was initially buried in 1939 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France. He was quoted as saying, ‘If I die, bury me up there [at Roquebrune] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in Sligo’.” His family moved his remains to Drumcliff Churchyard in Sligo, County Clare in 1949. HIs epitaph is taken from one of his final poems entitled Under Ben Bulben, which is the name of the mountain by the church. The epitaph suggests that Yeats is more concerned about his legacy than he is of death.
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!
We stopped at Drumcliff Churchyard on our way to the Cliff of Moher and easily found it. It was a beautiful area. It’s the site of an old monastery that was built around 560 AD by Columba. Yeats’ great grandfather was a rector at the church, which was built around 1809. The celtic cross showing the old testament on one side and the new testament on other other are dated to the 9th/10th century. The cross and a stone tower are all that’s left of the monastery. This site is peaceful and worth the go around, especially the stained glass windows. Have a look and enjoy!
Here’s a favorite about growing old, watching the world pass you by, feeling out of place, and being neglected by society.
Sailing to Byzantium
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
A few Irish authors to look into:
- James Joyce (Dublin)
- Oscar Wilde (Dublin)
- W.B Yeats (Sandymount)
- Roddy Doyle (Dalkey)
- Maeve Binchy (Dublin)
- Jonathan Swift (Dublin)
- Samuel Beckett (Dublin)
- CS Lewis (Belfast)
- Eoin Colfer (Wexford)
- John Banville (Wexford)
- George Bernard Shaw (Dublin)
- Bram Stoker (Dublin)