Yeats Day June 09th -13th 2016

Yeats 2015

A celebration of the man, the legacy and the inspiration'


In 2015 Ireland celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel Prize-winning poet, William Butler Yeats on June 13th 1865.

Yeats2015 presented a local, national and international series of exhibitions, performances, educational events, festivals, concerts, readings, talks and screenings.

Cultural events centred on Sligo, Galway, Dublin, London and in counties across Ireland.

Yeats2015 also had a diverse international programme.

It was rooted in Sligo, Yeats’ ‘spiritual home’ and included events to celebrate the creative legacy of his father John and his talented siblings Jack, Susan and Elizabeth.

Through the prism of one of Ireland’s greatest artists, Yeats2015 marked a moment to celebrate and promote creativity in Ireland and elsewhere, and reconsidered the role of culture, community and the arts in the contemporary world.

For more information visit our Yeats2015 website here


News Articles


London Launch Yeats2015

Yeats2015, the national and international celebration of WB Yeats, was launched in London on September 25th 2014. 

The event took place in the Embassy of Ireland. The launch coincided with the inaugural Yeats lecture by the Ambassador of Ireland, Daniel Mulhall, with the Irish Literary Society.

This year long event is taking place, not only across the country, but around the world also. This year we mark 150 years since the birth of W.B Yeats on June 13th 1865. Yeats2015 is part of the government’s decade of commemoration with President Michael D Higgins as its patron.

Speaking ahead of the launch in 2014, Ambassador Daniel Mulhall said “I am delighted to formally launch Yeats2015 in London this evening and greatly look forward to next year’s national and international celebration of the life and work of Ireland’s greatest poet.” 

Chair of the National Steering Group of Yeats2015 Senator Susan O’ Keeffe said “I believe that Yeats2015 can give expression to the wider nation, that he can continue to inspire all of us in the 21st century, to connect with who we are and what inspires us.”

When the Chair of Irish Poetry Paula Meehan launched Yeats2015 in Sligo in 2014 she said “We have, I think, an unavoidable responsibility to Yeats here: let us by all means celebrate the many aspects of that myriad minded man, but let us above all, in 2015, agree to celebrate the indomitable, indefatigable, joyous, dreamer.”

Key events will take place in Sligo, Dublin and London. Yeats2015 celebrations will continue throughout the world in cities including London, Paris, Tokyo and New York.

The British Library, Coole Park, IT Sligo, The National Library of Ireland and the National Concert Hall are just some of venues hosting events this year.


Press Release October 6th 2014

Yeats 2015 Presents a "Significant Cultural Opportunity for Ireland"

Extensive research and business case analysis conducted by the Ross School of Business at Michigan University has highlighted the cultural and economic possibilities associated with the upcoming Yeats 2015 programme. 

MBA students at Ross School of Business, in collaboration with the Western Development Commission (WDC), have recently undertaken the detailed exploration of the planned Yeats 2015 celebration. 

Commenting on the Michigan University report, Head of Regional Development and Acting CEO of the WDC, Ian Brannigan stated that “The potential of Yeats 2015 from both an economic and cultural perspective is very clearly defined in the Ross report. 

This year-long celebration will attract visitors from Japan, the US and continental Europe – W.B. Yeats has a substantial international following with Yeatsian societies in many countries. 

It is estimated that Yeats 2015 could attract thousands of additional international visitors netting millions in international tourism and cultural revenues”

While recent tourism initiatives such as The Gathering have illustrated the scope and economic impact of focused international marketing campaigns – Yeats 2015 offers a distinctly unique cultural opportunity to celebrate Ireland, through the prism of one of its most renowned literary icons. 

Given the geographical resonance of much of Yeats’s writing, there is also a distinct connection between the writer and the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’.

Speaking about their involvement in the research project underpinning Yeats 2015, Ross 2015 MBA student Evan Botsford stated that "Based on our extensive research and analysis, our team concluded that, with the help of our report's recommendations, the Yeats 2015 event has potential for a very positive long-term impact on not only marketing Ireland and its' culture, but also developing unique, sustainable partnerships, and unifying the myriad of ideas and passions regarding the legacy of WB Yeats around the globe."

The Yeats 2015 celebration was officially launched earlier this year by the former Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan T.D., and its programme will commence in early 2015. 

The WDC has also recently issued a call for tenders in respect of the development of the celebrations’ website and expects to issue a request for ‘Expressions of Interest’ in the coming weeks to engage with the creative industry nationally and regionally regarding potential linkages.

To find out more about the Yeats 2015 celebration, contact the WDC at 094-9861441 or visit


W.B. Yeats 2015 Website Development Call – “The Wild Atlantic Poet”
01 August 2014

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has issued a ‘Request for Quotation’ for the development of a website specifically focused on the year-long Yeats 2015 celebration.

The tender call opened on the 30th of July and will close on the 22nd of August, after which time, selected proposers will be invited for interview.

The WDC, which is the regional authority responsible for the promotion of economic and social development of the Western Region, has been central in engaging with and developing unique, creative sector-focused initiatives.

These projects and supports include the ‘Creative Edge’ export platform and the Micro-Loan fund for creative SMEs in the Western region.

Yeats 2015 is a key element of the WDC’s development plan, as a year-long celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of the internationally renowned literary figure’s birth.

It is estimated that the Yeats 2015 programme, which will encompass a significant range of artistic and cultural events, will draw up to 85,000 additional visitors to Ireland.

Speaking about the upcoming celebration earlier today, the WDC’s Acting CEO and Head of Regional Development, Ian Brannigan stated: “Yeats 2015 will form part of the national decade of commemoration and will draw visitors from international locations as diverse as Japan, America and the UK. Yeats has connections all around the world – from societies to festivals – and of course, his strong academic following. Yeats 2015 will be a year which showcases Ireland, through the prism of Yeats and his legacy.

Additionally it is intended to drive international interest in initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way through connecting them with W.B. Yeats who may justifiably be called the Wild Atlantic Poet.”

The Yeats 2015 website has been highlighted as a central requirement for successful promotion of the Yeats 2015 programme and will provide an interactive portal for the celebrations’ events, relevant contacts for visitors and a wealth of other information.

“We’re actively seeking tenders from qualified proposers, skilled in content creation and creativity in online development. All details can be found on the E-tenders portal”.

For those interested in obtaining more information regarding the Yeats 2015 website tender call, it may be viewed online at Further information in relation to the WDC and Yeats 2015 is available via and



Yeats2015 Launched

Press Release June 13th 2014

Yeats2015, a national and international celebration of WB Yeats was launched in Sligo today on the occasion of Yeats Day.
The year-long event will take place across the country and across the world and marks 150 years since the birth of WB Yeats on June 13th 1865. It is part of the government’s decade of commemoration.

Chair of Irish Poetry Paula Meehan was the guest of honour at the launch in the City Hall in Sligo.   She said: “We must be heartened by the commitment given by the Taoiseach and by Minister Jimmy Deenihan to put their full weight behind this up-coming year”.

Chair of the National Steering Group of Yeats2015 Senator Susan O’ Keeffe said  “Yeats2015 will place Ireland as a global cultural and creative location.”

Minister for Arts, Heritage the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan who launched Yeats2015 and whose department is supporting the celebration said “Sligo is the spiritual home of WB Yeats and the natural place to launch Yeats2015. Yeats was an international figure and it is fitting Yeats2015 will have an international theme to its proceedings”.

A programme of events will be launched later this year.  Key events are likely to be located in Dublin, Galway and Sligo - the three places in Ireland most associated with Yeats and his family. International events will take place in a number of cities including London, Paris, Tokyo and New York.

Ian Brannigan, Acting Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission (which will provide the secretariat for Yeats2015) said “We are humbled to be part of Yeats2015 and are gifted to have a colossus like the legacy of Yeats which remains a thriving creative asset to our region”




A Year to Commerate WB Yeats

Yeats2015 will offer a diverse and rewarding series of events to acknowledge and celebrate the range and depth of his work. It will also include events to celebrate the work of his father John and his talented siblings Jack, Susan and Elizabeth.

Yeats2015 partners will span the literary, cultural, historical and academic worlds and will be national and international. Events will be planned across the world, across the year and will encompass the wide legacy of WB Yeats and his family.

Through Yeats 2015, Ireland will make a bold statement to the world about our rich cultural heritage and showcase our contemporary cultural wealth.



Speech by the Chair of Irish Poetry Paula Meehan at the launch of Yeats2015
Yeats 2015: A year to Celebrate his 150th Birthday

We are here in the name of a great soul who integrated the many sides of his self into a holistic vision. And there were many sides, one might nearly say an embarrassment of sides, to integrate: entrepreneur, journalist, painter, politi-cian, lover, dramatist, songmaker, memoirist, magician, dreamer and mystic and most important of all, poet. WB Yeats is an icon of how the fractured self can find expression and unity in a time of violent change.

If I say he was never a soldier then I do a disservice to the warrior in him. He was a warrior for his idea of a nation that valued and supported its artists for the health and wisdom of the people. In a post-nationalist or even a trans-nationalist moment, after a century which began in the trenches, and ended for millions in those self same trenches, a senseless slaughter for the cause of empires, we might use Mr. Yeats and his work as a lens through which to see ourselves anew, as a way of championing the imagination in our quest for a more balanced and equitable life in the coming times.

In 1914, the year of the Great War, Yeats was heading rapidly towards his fiftieth year. He sat down to write what his biographers have shown to be a monumental act of the imagination, his Autobiographies. Whatever about the constraints of literal truth, it was there that he gave us his own version of himself.

I love that he champions the dreaming self through his life, that the world for him was a magic place full of immanent mystery and power. I especially love the young Yeats, foolish and romantic with a head full of curiosity and longing. I love the Yeats who put his seventeen-year-old ear to the earth of Howth Head to listen to the heartbeat of the great mother. He slept in caves in the cliffs and in the rhododendron terraces, and the intensity of these early nature raptures mixed with the powerful energies from Sligo, from the land and sea scapes, from sky and lake scapes, from mountain and town, were to prove far more formative influences then the official education system. Both W.B and Jack, our great painter, had trouble in school. Jack was bottom of the class when he lived here with his grandfather, and WB’s relationship with formal education was tentative and tangential, to put it mildly.

He believed that the land he loved so intensely had power and force of and in itself. The Irish historical trope is so often, in poetry as well as in other modes of documentation, one where the land fails us, delivers us to famine, emigration, and sorrow. For some reason, it often goes unspoken that the land has nurtured millions of us in the century and a half since Yeats came wide-eyed into the world. I hope this coming commemorative year might integrate ideas of sustainability and reverence for our great mother back into the conversation about this island of Ireland. It would be a fitting acknowledgement of the reverence and love that Yeats had always for the very land itself.

If he had reverence for the Great Mother, he also had a lively sense of where he got his story gene from. Here he is on his actual mother, Susan, when they’d set-tled into Howth shortly after the Yeats family moved to Ireland: “When I think of her, I almost always see her talking over a cup of tea in the kitchen with our servant, the fisherman’s wife, on the only themes outside our house that seemed of interest ¬¬— the fishing-people of Howth, or the pilots and fishing people of Rosses Point. … She read no books, but she and the fisherman’s wife would tell each other stories that Homer might have told, pleased with any moment of sudden intensity and laughing together over any point of satire.”

Yeats belongs to everyone: no one can own him. The Yeats industry ranges from mug manufacturers in China to hotel night purveyors everywhere on the island that is associated directly with him.  And who can measure the conferences, schools and festivals devoted to his name, his life and work? The whole range of human ingenuity has been and will continue to be exercised in his name, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

We must be aware that lip service to ideas of art and culture without the grant-ing of resources is little more than a joke in poor taste. We have riches and gifts in abundance in both the land and people of the island, and we have riches be-yond measure in the children of the old Irish and new Irish alike who live in di-vers tongues now and are heirs to this inspiring legacy. Surely we have a duty to nourish and cultivate these riches?

Yeats’ work is a powerful reminder to us to value this island and its resources. Protean, and always in some strange way self-renewing, his work reminds us that each succeeding generation, native and visitor alike, is also a resource. You will forgive me, I’m sure, if I say that I very much doubt that we will ever see visitors, scholars or ourselves flocking to see ‘The Great Fracking Pods of Leitrim” or any such site, as we flock now to immerse our spirits in the lands around Ben Bulben, in the lakes and rivers where hazels stand like torches in the light of dawn.

“The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” he responded, when John O’Leary chided him for a lack of attention to the National Cause. Yeats lived his life by starlight, drawing on the deepest wells of the imagination in order to dream his version of this country into existence. He was more worried about his natal Moon being opposed by Mars than he was about the price of onions and we will miss much if the alchemical wizard in him is not respected.

“In dreams begins responsibility” he prefaced his collection Responsibilities  pub-lished a hundred years ago. We have, I think, an unavoidable responsibility to Yeats here: let us by all means celebrate the many aspects of that myriad minded man, but let us above all, in 2015, agree to celebrate the indomitable, indefatigable, joyous, dreamer.

Paula Meehan

© Copyright: 2017 Yeats Day

Starts: June 09th -13th 2016