Conference at University of Limerick to celebrate Yeats

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Dana Garvin, manager of the conference entitled 'A writer: young and old': Yeats at 150', and Prof Margaret Harper, director and president, International Yeats Society
SOME of the leading scholars of the works of poet WB Yeats will be in Limerick this weekend for the first in what is hoped will become an annual celebration of his work.

SOME of the leading scholars of the works of poet WB Yeats will be in Limerick this weekend for the first in what is hoped will become an annual celebration of his work.

More than 100 people are expected at the University of Limerick (UL) for a three-day seminar being held to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the renowned poet and playwright.

The event is being organised by the International Yeats Society - a collection of scholars of the writer drawn from colleges right across the globe - and is being led by Prof Margaret Harper, one of the foremost authorities on his work.

Beginning on Thursday evening, and lasting until Sunday, the majority of events take place at the Pavilion Restaurant on UL’s north campus, with a number of ‘fringe’ events happening at nearby sites.

And the University will this Friday launch a major collection of first editions of the published works of Ireland’s foremost poet, donated to the Glucksman Library by Professor Michael Gilsenan.

The collection features copies of all of Yeats’ work such as The Tower, The Winding Stair, Wind Among the Reeds and Plays for an Irish Theatre and the dondation will mean that UL will become home to one of the finest Yeats’ collections in Ireland.

One of the events taking place this weekend will be a performance of Yeats’ 1916 play At the Hawk’s Well, by a nine-strong Hungarian theatre company, taking place at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.

“In the plot, a young man, running from the authorities as he has been part of the Easter Rising of 1916 ends up in the Burren. He meets a man and a woman, and as the play develops, he realises they need for him to forgive them something they have done 800 years ago, and until then, they can never rest,” Prof Harper explained.

The strength of the international society, she added, is it allows scholars to share their work and new theories which may not be that familiar to Europeans and Americans.

Around 50 scholars from 20 different countries will attend the event.

There will be reflections from Yeats Societies in Japan, while a panel in honour of an important Yeatsian Daniel Albright, who died suddenly, will also take place.

Nineteenth century reflections of Yeats’ work will take place, while music from the same era will be played.

The conference ends with a trip to Thoor Ballylee Castle in Co Galway, a tower once inhabited by the writer.

Two years in the making, the first annual International Yeats Society Conference will offer a “place for the people in the middle”, Prof Margaret Harper says.

“There is a full world of young scholars who need to share their work and communicate with each other,” she added.

Going forward, she hopes the conference will become an annual event - or every other year at the very least. It will travel around the world to places which have a strong Yeats Society presence, with the USA the next likely venue.

For more information on this year’s conference, visit or telephone 061-20 2098.