Yeatsian Legacy Project Overview


The purpose of The Yeatsian Legacyprogramme is to promote an understanding of cultural heritage and the sharing of experiences and expressions of different cultures by exploring the Yeatsian legacy and its impact on the identity of the county and region.

Sligo County Council Arts Service, together with the programme partners, wish to examine this legacy in the context of the development of the Gateway City, the broader cultural brand and identity within the county and region, and the EU Peace building programme.

Activities undertaken in the various project strands – Community Dialogue; Workshops and Education (Literary and Visual); Talks Readings and Events; Exhibition and Symposium - will have a clearly defined and documented peace building focus.

Programme Partners and Management Group

  • Sligo Arts Service – Rhona McGrath, Assistant Arts Officer
  • Stacey Herbert, Guest Literary Programme Curator
  • The Model - Emer Mc Garry, Curator: Collections and Projects
  • The Model - Marie Louise Blaney, Education Curator
  • Strule Arts Centre - Jean Brennan, Arts Manager, Omagh District Council
  • Institute of Technology - Ronnie Hughes, Department of Humanities/Fine Art.
  • Project Manager - Mary McDonagh, Sligo Arts Service
  • Administrative and Community Co-ordinator - Helen O’Hara
  • Communications Lead - Rhona McGrath and Sarah Leavy, Sligo Arts Service

The Programme encompasses 5 key project elements outlined as follows:

  1. Community Dialogue: Sligo
    A series of meetings November 2009 - February 2010 designed to introduce and prepare participants in the Literary Workshop Programme.
  2. Workshops and Education: Sligo
    2.1 Literary: February - May 2010. Stacey Herbert, Curator.
    The Literary Programme encourages participants to actively explore the drama and poetry of William Butler Yeats in highly engaging, accessible ways and to see that work in the context of contemporary Irish writing from the Republic and Northern Ireland. Workshop facilitators will focus especially on a selection of plays and poems, guiding participants’ exploration of themes of the 'threshold' or ‘doorway’ as a transitional space and gateway between worlds.  The theme is intended to provide an entry point to discussion of both the literary works and the personal experiences of the participants – thresholds, in a myriad of forms, are part of our common experience. In Yeats’ work, thresholds are often spaces in which characters make passionate decisions about the direction of their own lives: to look inward or outward; to be passive or active; or to alternate, often through masquerade, in order to experience contrary positions. Much of Yeats’ work aimed, on page and stage, to create a space in which the reader or audience would find himself or herself comfortably inhabiting two worlds or dimensions at once.
    2.2 Visual: July - September 2010. The Model, Curator. The Visual Programme will create cross-community opportunities for families and children through a series of summer workshops. which will focus on themes addressed in the Yeats exhibition ‘The Outsider’, which depict images of gypsies, sailors, circus performers and travellers.
  3. Readings, Events and Talks
    3.1 Sligo and Omagh: 5 Events February - October 2010. Stacey Herbert, Curator and Strule Arts Centre.
    ‘WB Yeats in Context and Interpretation’ will be a series of performances, readings and events offered to the public at large. Members of the Community Focus Groups will be encouraged to attend.
    3.2 Sligo: 6 Talks February - April 2010. Ronnie Hughes, Curator, IT Sligo
    ‘The Yeatsian Legacy Talks Series’ at IT Sligo will use the arts as a means to explore cultural identity, shared history and issues relating to sectarianism and racism.  The purpose is to promote an understanding of cultural difference and to share experiences and expressions of divergent cultures, beliefs and ways of living.
  4. Exhibition: ‘Jack B Yeats - the Outsider’
    Sligo and Portadown: July-September 2010 and October- November 2010. The Model, Curator and Guest Curator Brian O’Doherty.
    ‘Jack B Yeats - The Outsider’ is a survey exhibition of the work of arguably Ireland’s greatest painter. While placing his work in the context of the Modernist movement, the exhibition also explores, in Brian O’Doherty’s words, the “promise and regret” of Yeats’ work, and the distance and proximity he had with his subjects. Over a career spanning seven decades, Jack B Yeats’ work revealed a fascination with those who lived on the fringes of society. Yeats repeatedly painted the tramps, travellers, circus performers, drunks, sailors and gypsies that populated his youth in Sligo. This exhibition explores this interest Yeats had in the subject and realities of the outsider. Yeats himself was an outsider of sorts, both to the people he chose to paint and, as an Anglo-Irish Republican, to the society in which he was raised. The show is co-curated by Emer McGarry, Assistant Curator at The Model and Brian O Doherty, an internationally celebrated artist, critic, theorist and writer.
  5. Symposium: The Politics of Identity in 21st Century Ireland.
    Sligo: 11 September 2010. The Model, Curator and Guest Curators Brian O’Doherty and Stacey Herbert. 


© Sligo County Council Arts Department, City Hall, Quay Street, Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland tel: +353 (0) 71 911 4465