See Sligo through the eyes of Ireland’s national poet

A new trail takes visitors around key points in the dramatic Sligo landscape that inspired the Nobel Prize-winning poet, W B Yeats.

The new Yeats Trail visits 14 places in County Sligo that are deeply connected to the life and poetry of W B Yeats.

It journeys through an area Yeats referred to in his poem Under Saturn as the “valley his fathers called their home”. This is a landscape that the poet knew intimately and that remains unchanged from his day.

The trail starts at Knocknarea, a hill topped by an important Stone Age cairn under which the legendary warrior, Queen Maeve, is said to be buried. It’s a place that features prominently in Yeats’ poetry.

The seaside village of Rosses Point, where Yeats spent many summer holidays, is next followed by Drumcliffe, where the poet is famously buried, as he desired, in the shadow of Ben Bulben, which is the next stop on the trail. The table mountain dominates the Sligo landscape and both its beauty and the mythology surrounding it influenced Yeats greatly, leading him to write the poem Under Ben Bulben.

WB Yeats Trail, Slish Wood, Co Sligo.

Other key points along the trail include Glencar, where a waterfall inspired Yeats to write “the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glen-Car” and Dooney Rock, immortalised in The Fiddler of Dooney.

The trail also visits Lough Gill where a tiny island was the inspiration for one of Yeats’ most famous poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Nearby Slish Wood, which forms part of the Sligo Way walking trail, is where Yeats imagined a child being lured away by fairies: “Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand”.

At each of the 14 points on the trail there is an art installation which features the words of the poetry associated with the location. These offer the visitor a chance to reflect on the poem and see the landscape through Yeats’ eyes.

County Sligo has long been known as Yeats Country because of the important part it played in the poet’s life and work. He called the county “The Land of Heart’s Desire” and with its gorgeous coastline, shimmering lakes and picturesque towns and villages, it is easy to see why.