Yeats2015 Launches with Open Invitation to Every Citizen in Ireland to Celebrate One of Our National Cultural Icons

Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is today (Tuesday) officially launching Yeats2015 at the United Arts Club in Dublin.

Funded by the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the Decade of Commemorations; Yeats2015 offers a unique opportunity to celebrate Ireland, through the prism of one of its most renowned literary icons.  A year long programme of cultural and artistic events is planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Irish Nobel prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats.

This is the first time that Ireland will honour any one individual in this way.

An internationally renowned poet and playwright,  Yeats was cited by the Nobel Academy in 1923, as having  ‘given expression to the spirit of a whole nation.’ He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in December 1923, the first Irish man to do so.  His love of Ireland and of places in Ireland that were of particular inspiration to him such as Sligo, Galway and Dublin will also be celebrated as part of the programme.

Ahead of the launch, Minister Heather Humphreys said:

“Yeats2015 promises to be a very exciting and engaging year long programme of events to celebrate the life and work of WB Yeats.  As Ireland’s first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and through his role in the Literary Revival and the founding of the Abbey Theatre, Yeats has left a rich legacy, which has had a huge impact both in Ireland and internationally.

“Yeats2015, with its keen focus on education and engagement, will allow us the opportunity to reflect on the Ireland of 100 years ago and reflect on the period surrounding the formation of our nation state.  Yeats was a provocative social commentator and I am looking forward to hearing from members of the public in the coming months on how they want to commemorate this major event in our history.

“I hope the Yeats celebrations will encourage people to rediscover his great work and to reflect on this fascinating period in our history.”

Yeats was a key figure in Irish life and history – engaged, committed, and curious – and the Yeats2015 programme will be both about celebrating his achievement and creating new art and memorable experiences in that passionate and creative tradition.  Yeats2015 is a journey, physical and imaginative, in which all the varied events and places are linked.

The Yeats2015 programme will showcase the creative and cultural vibrancy of contemporary Ireland.   The year-long celebrations will include Yeats Day (June 13th) and feature exhibitions, performances, festivals and events across all the artforms throughout the island of Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Chair of Yeats2015 Senator Susan O’ Keeffe said,

Every facet of Irish society is being invited to participate in this year long celebration.   Already there has been a considerable response.  Our National Cultural Institutions, including the National Library, National Gallery and The Abbey Theatre are all programming Yeats themed exhibitions and events in 2015.

O’Keeffe added “The Western Development Commission, through an open call to the creative community for funding to develop creative, artistic, innovative and contemporary programme elements for Yeats2015, received over 150 applications from 20 countries such was the level of interest and enthusiasm for this national icon.  The Department of Foreign Affairs is planning readings and screenings at the embassies all over the world such is the international significance of the man and this celebration. We are delighted to have the support of a wonderful Steering Committee and of both Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland.  We are also delighted that education will feature so strongly in our programme, with a primary schools education programme planned to which we invite every child in the country to participate. Poetry Aloud, the hugely popular annual poetry-speaking competition for post-primary schools, which is jointly organized by the NLI and Poetry Ireland each year, will feature prescribed Yeats poems in 2015.”

O’Keeffe concluded by issuing the following invitation:

“Any organisation holding a Yeats themed event in 2015 is also being invited to submit their event through which is also being launched today.  The website contains information on existing and new events taking place next year and will make it easy for people at home and aboard to experience Yeats in 2015.”

Commenting on the Yeats2015 Open Call, Acting CEO of the WDC, Ian Brannigan stated that

“WDC felt it was extremely important to have a programme with cultural creativity at its heart.  The west of Ireland has such an inspiring landscape and a wonderfully creative, cultural community and this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that.  Together with the enormous legacy of Yeats work and his role in shaping the critical elements of the nation’s cultural foundations, we think this is a very real opportunity to celebrate what Ireland does so well, culture and community, as part the Government’s decade of commemorations.”

Key programme highlights include a worldwide celebration of Yeats Day on June 13th, an exhibition of John Yeats paintings at the National Gallery, a celebratory music and poetry weekend of events at the National Concert Hall, an expanded Yeats Summer School in Sligo, theatre and dance performances at national arts festivals and widespread literary and poetry events throughout the year.  The National Library will host a series of events at its award-winning exhibition, the Life and Works of William Butler Yeats, as will the Galway City Museum and The Model in Sligo.

International programme elements will include a series of events in London, including a poetry event at the British Library in London, exhibitions at Ireland’s embassy network and at international library locations facilitated by the Department of Foreign Affairs.  Tourism Ireland will also run an international campaign to increase awareness of Ireland’s great literary heritage, the places that inspired Yeats and in Ireland’s national Yeats 2015 celebration.