1000 Places

#TravelTuesday: Ben Bulben, County Sligo, Ireland

1000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE CALENDAR

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Ben Bulben

County Sligo, Ireland

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Photo © The Irish Image Collection/Perspectives

Though he was born in Dublin, poet W. B. Yeats spent his summers in County Sligo, where he absorbed the mysticism and beauty of the natural world. His grave can be found at St. Columba’s Church in Drumcliff, under the watchful gaze of Ben Bulben, which, according to legend, is the mountain home of the Fianna tribe of Celtic warriors.

Yeats, whose great-grandfather had been a rector of St. Columba’s Church, wanted to be buried in the tiny village. Though he was originally interred in France in 1939, his relatives eventually had his remains returned to St. Columba’s. The church’s swan-shaped door handles recall Yeats’s poem “The Wild Swans at Coole.” His epitaph is the last lines of his poem “Under Ben Bulben.” Outside the graveyard, a statue crouches as if to contemplate “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” another work of Yeats’s. The poem is inscribed in stone at the feet of the figure, which is draped with the sculptor’s rendition of heaven’s embroidered cloths.

 

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