05 August 2005

Sligo 'still not paying proper homage to Yeats'

Irish Independent

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SLIGO should be to WB Yeats as Stratford-on-Avon is to Shakespeare or as the Lake District is to William Wordsworth, the President of the Yeats Society has argued.

Speaking during the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo yesterday, Michael Keohane criticised the local authorities for failing to give the influential poet his due recognition.

"Apart from this School, I don't think Yeats is being properly recognised. There should be a major street renamed in his honour. Also there are four key buildings in the town which are directly connected with his family and there isn't a single plaque on them," he said.

He added that Sligo city, with its own airport, should be promoted for cultural breaks with the collected poems of Yeats being used as the perfect guide to the area.

"This is where the future of tourism lies and we have to learn to take advantage of that. People are tiring of the two-week sun holiday and are opting instead for short city breaks to cultural cities like Prague and Trieste. So why not Sligo?" he asked.

This year's 45th Yeats International Summer School and Festival, has attracted over 110 delegates from all over the world, who have no doubts about the international significance of the writer.

The fortnight offers seminars, plays, exhibitions and tours all paying homage to the city's most famous adopted son.

For the School's loyal supporters and newcomers alike, coming to Sligo which provided the inspiration for much of the poet's most famous works, always offers new ways of exploring the enigmatic writer. American student Erin Sells, from Atlanta, Georgia said: "I have never done anything like this before and it is very exciting to be able to discuss Yeats with such intellectual and influential people."

Yeats Society chairperson, Michael Keohane pointed out that far from being a 'Dead Poets Society', the esteem in which Yeats is held among the living, is reflected in the attendance at this year's School of some of Ireland's leading contemporary poets including Seamus Heaney, Dennis O'Driscoll, Eamon Grennan and Tom Paulin.

Seamus Heaney was even sitting in the lecture hall during a lecture which compared his work to that of Yeats.

Anita Guidera

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