2015: Ireland celebrates Yeats’ 150th anniversary

The Irish government has allocated 500,000 euros to celebrate the work of poet and Nobel Laureate WB Yeats.

Next year has been designated Yeats 2015 by the Irish government.

It will be a year-long national and international celebration of the life and works of the poet.

Yeats was awarded his Nobel Prize in 1923, for his “always inspired poetry, which, in a highly artistic form, gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”.

Yeats’ poetry ranged from lyrical to political, and some of his best-known poems can seem remarkably contemporary.

WB Yeats is buried in Drumcliff, County Sligo


Lines such as these from The Second Coming (1919) continue to have relevance today:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

His poetry is regularly quoted in popular culture with references to some of his well-loved verses in films such as Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, and Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence.

Yeats’ lyrical poetry has also long been a favourite with musicians. In 2011 Scottish rock band, The Waterboys, released An Appointment with Mr Yeats, an album of his poems set to music.

The organisers behind Yeats 2015 expect to attract 85,000 extra visitors to Ireland, and hope it will generate renewed interest in Irish culture and literature.

Yeats 2015 is part of the decade of commemoration in the Republic of Ireland, which includes events to commemorate the Easter Rising and the Dublin Lockout.