A LETTER from Maud Gonne donated to the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society made €5,200 at a special auction held at Yeats’ tower on Sunday last.
A Salthill couple secured the letter, beating bids from Dublin and Washington. In total, €10,000 was raised for the reopening of Thoor Ballylee, the former summer home of WB Yeats in South Galway.
The auction took place from the rooftop of the tower by local auctioneer, Colm Farrell MIPAV, acting as Yeats himself.
Enid McAleenan donated Maud Gonne’s autobiography; Servant of the Queen, originally owned by her aunt, Eileen McAleenan. The book contains a letter from Gonne to McAleenan, where she tells her about the importance of living a full, adventurous life and to stand up for a free Ireland.
Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, chair of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, was beaming at the end of a very successful auction.
“The power and generosity of the local community is remarkable. Like Maud Gonne’s advice in her letter, they are standing up for what is rightfully theirs and fighting to save Yeats’ tower and their heritage.
“All funds raised will be used to open the tower to the public during the summer season in the stark absence of State funding,” she said.
The official opening of the iconic tower will take place on Saturday, June 13 at 4pm.
Celebrations will begin with a picnic at Kiltartan Museum in the Millennium Park, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. People can bring their picnics and enjoy a recital by Coole Music Ensemble, Gaillimh Theas Comhaltas and a poetry presentation from schoolchildren. There will also be face painting and anyone dressed up in period costume would be especially welcome.
The celebrations continue in Coole Park from 3pm to 5pm and the programme includes music from Coole Harmonies, a fancy-dress procession, uilleann piper and a poetry reading.
The celebrations conclude with the official opening of Thoor Ballylee from 4.30pm to 6pm. Special guests at the opening will include Minister for Diaspora Affairs Jimmy Deenihan; Senator Healy Eames; Joseph Hassett, Yeats scholar and Thoor Ballylee benefactor and Niall De Burca, internationally acclaimed story-teller.
By Nicola Norless