Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 3: Exploring Yeats Country

After a night of sleeping in a 2-person hotel room, complete with your own bathroom (!!), we woke up refreshed and wandered down to the hotel lobby to help ourselves to a continental breakfast. Soon, it was time to leave Derry/Londonderry, or as we prefer – LegenDerry 😉

On this third day of our All Ireland Rocker Tour, the plan was to head back into the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland. Our first stop of the day was a bit of a drive, so we were happy to look out the window and admire the green of the Emerald Isle.

As we drove through County Sligo, our guide Dave pointed out a famous landmark – Ben Bulben. What a striking geological formation! There are also tales that Ben Bulben is actually hollow and that fairies (or faeries) live inside it. It certainly seems plausible because who else could have created this amazing scenery and shaped Ben Bulben, but the fairies!

Ben Bulben, outside the bus window

After driving past Ben Bulben, we arrived at our first stop of the day – Drumcliffe.  Drumcliffe was the site of an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Colmcille (St. Columba) in the 6th Century.

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Here we are at St. Columba’s Parish Church in Drumcliffe.

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This church in Drumcliffe is known for being the final resting place of famous Irish poet and Nobel Laureate – William Butler Yeats. After his death, Yeats was actually buried in France, but according to his wishes, his body was moved back to County Sligo. Yeats was finally laid to rest in the Drumcliffe churchyard, where his great-grandfather was once a rector.

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Yeats spent some of his younger years in County Sligo, which had a heavy influence on his works. The poem “Under Ben Bulben” in particular describes this land – which is now known as “Yeats Country.” This particular excerpt from the poem details Yeats’ wishes for his final resting place and even dictates the words he wanted cut on his epitaph:

Excerpt from “Under Ben Bulben” – W.B. Yeats

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

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Final resting place of W.B. Yeats, as well as his wife, Georgie or George Yeats

In the churchyard, there is also a memorial dedicated to Yeats, featuring another one of his works – “He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven“.

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I was really drawn to these 3 lines from the poem:

Excerpt from “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” – W.B. Yeats

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

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Stirring words.

After some time reflecting here, we wandered over to the church for a look.

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St. Columba Parish Church

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The beautiful swan gracing the door of the church

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Returning outside, we took one last look around at the beautiful countryside – easy to see how Yeats Country inspired him to write his poetry.

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Beautiful Yeats Country – I can see why Yeats was inspired by the land and scenery here…

Leaving Yeats Country behind, we crossed into County Mayo, stopping at the quaint town of Westport for lunch. Westport is different from many other Irish towns and cities in that it was a “planned” town. Instead of growing and expanding organically as other towns and cities, Westport was constructed using urban design principles – albeit more medival urban design principles, complete with a tree-lined boulevard by the Carrowberg River and this… An octagonal town square and monument – named aptly The Octagon!

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The Octagon – lined with storefronts, restaurants and pubs

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After grabbing a quick spot of lunch from Madden’s Bistro, we were back on the bus and headed towards our next stop – Croagh Patrick. Stay tuned for more on Day 3!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie
LettersofWanderlust3


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