The most dastardly act the IRA committed against England occurred in this area in 1979. At Mullaghmore, the IRA blew up the yacht of Lord Mountbatten, killing him and members of his family. Nearby, Classebawn Castle was Mountbatten’s home.
W.B. Yeats grave at Drumcliff
Further on, we were now in the area of Sligo intimately associated with William Butler Yeats, the Nobel Prize poet, whose mother’s family was from here. We took the side road from Drumcliff through Carney to go to Lissadell House, the ancestral home of the Gore-Booth Family. Both names are famous in America for their descendents. Plain and unimpressive from the outside, the house’s
only redeeming grace was its location with a view of the sea in the distance.
But later I saw an inside view and wished that we could have gone and seen the interior, but it was closed. Yeats wrote of this – “Great sitting room as high as a church and all things in good taste.” He was a friend of the two sisters, Eva, a poet, and Constance, a patriot. His poem entitled “In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Mackiewicz” goes:
Great windows open to the south
Two girls in silk kimonos.”
Constance was part of the 1916 Easter Rising and was the only woman arrested. Her death sentence was not carried out and she later became a member of the House of Commons. I had read about her in a book on Maude Gonne, who was Yeats’ unrequited love.
Back on N15, we had good views of Benbulben, the famous table mountain which reminded me of the mesas in the Southwestern United States. Yeats wanted to be buried in the churchyard at Drumcliff, within sight of his mountain. Although he died in 1939 in Roquebrune on the French Riviera, he was buried overlooking the Mediterranean. Knowing that he wished to be buried eventually in this Protestant burial ground where his great-grandfather had been rector of the church located here, in 1948 his remains were moved. He was interred in this spot with an epitaph that he had written:
On life, on death
Horseman, pass by!
As you walk to the church, on the right is an 11th century Celtic cross in good condition. Across the road is the remains of a round tower, which was part of a monastery established by St. Columb in the 6th century.
Crossing the River Garavogue, we came immediately to the larger than life-size, fanciful statue of Yeats in front of the Ulster Bank. It is covered with quotes from his poems. I recall the line “because I am mad about women.”
As I said before, traffic-congested, big cities don’t interest me. So we quickly passed the Sligo Abbey, built by Sligo’s founder, Maurice Fitzgerald, in the 13th century. The town was destroyed twice by Cromwell’s forces in 1641 and 1645 but it is bustling and alive today.
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Right outside Sligo are the many dolmens, stone circles and tombs of the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery. Dating back seven thousands years ago, these are older than the pyramids and the graves at Newgrange. We strode around this national heritage site, which features an archeological dig to unearth a dolmen. There were various stone circles nearby. But some of the best structures are located on private farms next door to the site. My zoom lens came in handy in taking several good shots in these places.