W B Yeats at the National Library of Ireland


While taking the bus between Heuston station and my hotel near the Grand Canal on the edge of Ballsbridge I spotted that that there were a couple of exhibitions on at the National Library of Ireland – one about the 1913 Lockout and another about WB Yeats. I decided to visit them on my last day in Dublin.

They were both good. The W B Yeats exhibition was in the main building, which was architecturally interesting in it’s own right.


The National Library of Ireland

I don’t know a great deal about Yeats, but like some of his poetry. So I found out quite a lot about him from the exhibition. (There’s also an Online version )

Yeats: visit the Online Exhibition

Yeats was a major figure in Irish Literary history – associated with the Irish Literary Revival, one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre and was awarded In  the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. He had a life-long infatuation with Maud Gonne who inspired many of his poems. A supporter of Irish independence, he served as a Senator for 6 years from 1922, on the foundation of the Irish Free State. Interested in Irish myths and legends he dabbled in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. All of these facets of his life were covered by the exhibition.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s he expressed sympathy and support for fascist ideas and regimes. This was discussed by George Orwell in an article published in the literary journal Horizon in 1943. But there was no mention of this in the exhibition. This aspect of his character makes me feel uneasy, especially as I like a number of his poems. Reconciling work you admire with the views or acts of the artist isn’t always easy.

Close to the entrance there was a multimedia area where visitors could sit and listen to recordings of some of his more well known poems read by personalities Seamus Heaney and Sinead O’Connor and one by Yeats himself. The words being spoken were projected onto a screen along with relevant images. It was very well done, I thought.

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I’ll finish with one of his poems which was featured in this display, a favourite of mine.

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin


Last Sunday, after looking round Merrion Square I wandered the short distance over to St Stephen’s Green and did the same. The pleasant park was really bustling with people of all nationalities (it seemed) enjoying the sunshine. And with daffodils and other flowers planted in the flower beds having finally emerged, it really felt that Spring had arrived.

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St Stephen’s Green was originally a marshy common on the edge of Dublin, used for grazing. But in 1663  Dublin Corporation decided to enclose the centre of the common and to sell land around the perimeter for building. The park was enclosed with a wall in 1664. As the South side of Dublin became fashionable Georgian style houses were built around the square. Unfortunately, relatively few of these original buildings remain today

Access to the Green was restricted to local residents until 1877, when the park was opened to be enjoyed by the general public.

This is the Fusiliers’ Arch  at the Grafton Street corner  over the entrance on the north west corner, at the bottom of Grafton Street, Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare. Erected in 1907 it commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War.



This statue of Wolfe Tone stands at the north east entrance.

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On the other side of the wall, inside the park, is a monument to the victims of the Irish Famine.

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Other Irish Patriots are commemorated by monuments in the park.

Countess Constance Markievicz, a revolutionary nationalist and socialist who was second in command of a group of rebels who occupied the park during the 1916 Easter rising.

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This statue of Robert Emmet, leader of the 1803 rebellion, stands opposite his birthplace at 109 St. Stephen’s Green (although the original building is lng gone).


Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa was a leader of the Fenians and prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.


There are also a number of monuments to notable writers.

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A very typical work by Henry Moore dedicated to the Irish Poet W B Yeats.

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A bust of James Joyce


This bust of the Indian nationalist and Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, a friend of W B Yeats, was unveiled on the 17th October 2011 to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.


This fountain, featuring the Three Fates inside the gate at the south east corner of the park was a gift from the German people to thank the Irish for help provided to refugees after World War II.