Eight kilometres due north of Sligo along the N15, the tiny seaside village of DRUMCLIFFE is the site of a monastery established in 574 by St Colmcille, though only a round tower and an eleventh-century high cross, set on opposite sides of the main road, remain today. The graveyard of the adjacent and somewhat stark nineteenth-century church is where the poet W.B. Yeats is buried and, as a consequence, is very much on the tourist trail. Yeats died in 1939 in Roquebrune, France, but before doing so requested that his body be interred locally for “a year or so” before being returned to Sligo. His wishes were granted in 1948 when his remains were transferred from France to Drumcliffe, where his great-grandfather had been rector, and buried, as one of his last poems stated, “Under bare Ben Bulben’s head”. His headstone, which also marks the resting place of his wife George, bears the last three lines of that poem, Under Ben Bulben:
Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!
A few kilometres northwest of Drumcliffe, Lissadell House, the lavishly restored ancestral home of the Gore Booth family, whose members Eva and Constance were close friends of W.B. Yeats, was once a must-see attraction. However, a prolonged €6m legal dispute with Sligo County Council over public rights of way has led to its closure to visitors. It has sporadically reopened its doors during the summer season but permanent solution to the impasse was yet to be decided at the time of writing. For the current situation check wwww.lissadellhouse.com.