A Visit to Yeats Country

This is Yeats Lodge, the B&B that we booked for our first stay in Sligo in 2008. We have returned to this great accommodation several times since, including last year for a week-long stay. The public rooms are spacious, and our bedroom with ensuite bath was extremely comfortable. We came to Sligo because William Butler Yates was one of my three favorite poets when I was an English major in college, and I wanted to visit at least some of the places from which he took inspiration. Following is a summary of a single day’s journey in 2008:


Yeats Lodge is located just off the main north-south motorway. Yeats’s grave is just a mile away, and the sea coast, which is always an attraction, is close by as well. This part of Sligo gained fame as “Yeats Country,” because the poet is closely identified with the area around Drumcliff. Yates spent much of his childhood with his mother’s family in Sligo, where he explored the land and learned folk tales.

We began our day at the nearby Drumcliff Church, where he is buried (St. Columba’s Parish Church, Church of Ireland), and where his great-grandfather had served as Rector. The Celtic cross, shown below, greets you at the churchyard. It was part of the original monastery and is presumed to be from the 11th century.


The country church and graveyard is lovely and tranquil, surrounded by the visually stunning mountains that Yeats so often referenced in his work. It was a beautiful Indian summer day, so we lingered for a time just soaking up the beauty of this quiet setting.





At Yates Lodge we stayed in the “Ben Bulben Room,” aptly named because it had a view of the massive “Table Mountain,” one of Ireland’s most beautiful mountains. Its distinctive outline results from different responses to erosion of the limestone and shale that forms the mountain.



Ben Bulben dominates the landscape from all directions, and it is fascinating to watch the mountain face change as the light comes and goes with the movement of cloud formations. You can even see Ben Bulben in the mist of this image that I made as we explored the coastal area around Drumcliff.



Next, we turned inland to head east where we could explore the road that lies at the base of Ben Bulben.


There we saw picturesque cottages . . .


. . . and grand country homes.


All along the way, we saw beautiful vistas that helped to explain how this rich visual environment informed the imagery of Yeats’s poetry.




Finally we arrived at Glencar Lake, one of Yates’s favorite locales.


As we were driving along the edge of the lake, I caught sight of a swan.


All it took was crackers to attract him and eventually his mate.


As we were heading back to the lodge, a rain shower blew in. But it did not spoil our day. In fact, it just made it better with a rainbow


I felt very lucky to be a photographer after this unforgettably perfect day in Yates County.

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In 2008 Jim and I made our first visit to the Connemara region of County Galway, staying at a lovely B&B and restaurant in the charming village of Leenane, which rests on a hill above the shore of Killary Harbour, one of three fjords in Ireland.

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

This was about the time that I had become REALLY serious about photographing sheep; in fact it was the Portfinn Lodge and Fjord Restaurant manager to whom Jim remarked that “Ann won’t be satisfied until she has photographed EVERY sheep in Ireland.” Imagine my surprise when he told me that the annual Blackface Ram Fair would be hosted right in the road in front of our B&B, starting at 5:00 A.M. the next day.

Sure enough, the rams arrived not long after daybreak, and the parked trailers stretched from one end of the crescent-shaped harbour to the other.

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

The purpose of the fair is to allow farmers to purchase rams from different blood lines to keep their herds from becoming inbred. In addition to the commerce that takes place, the event is a huge social occasion, so I had a wonderful time photographing the action and learning about Blackface Rams.

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Much of the activity took place on the road in front of the Leenane Sheep and Wool Museum, which Jim and visited at a later date.

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Wherever you turned, you would see sheep tethered to SOMETHING.

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

This gentleman asked me to photograph his rams and, put the picture on the Internet, and tell everyone that these are fine examples of Blackface Rams. I was happy to oblige. I hope he had a great day at the Fair. I certainly did!

Ram Fair Leeann October 2008

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