Ireland and WB Yeats

kitchen garden

Clothes in Books took a holiday recently, and spent the time in Ireland.

Almost exactly three years ago, I did a blog entry on WB Yeats and  his poem In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz – it’s on the blog here. It begins
The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
-- and Lissadell, in County Sligo, was one of the places I visited this month, a house and estate with a very melancholy beauty.

This is the house:


And these are the windows:

bay window

And on the window below the two young women scratched their names, you can almost see them here…

Lissadell is the epitome of all the Anglo-Irish houses so often found in the novels of the 20th century: slightly faded round the edges, symbolic of a running battle with the climate and a lack of money.

near kitchen

They're just the kind of novels I like, and many have featured on the blog. In Kate O’Brien’s The Last of Summer, set at exactly this time of the year in 1939, it was the RC middle classes, preparing for the outbreak of WW2. 

John Banville’s The Newton Letter is a small, perfect novella with an Irish house full of secrets, and the blog entry featured one of my favourite pictures:

Newton Letter IWM

There is also WG Sebald’s not-exactly-fiction Rings of Saturn: two women living in a big house, come on hard times, and making a beautiful dress out of scraps.  Time to bring out this favourite dress picture:

rings of saturn 3

And the old country estates are very much Molly Keane territory - as in this recent entry on The Rising Tide.

There’ll be more Irish-influenced and Yeats entries coming up on the blog soon…


  1. Welcome back, Moira! Delighted to see you again. Thank you for sharing those absolutely lovely 'photos. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. You've even brought some great suggestions back to whet our appetites for your upcoming posts - love it!

    1. Thanks for the lovely welcome Margot. I had a great holiday and hope it will inspire quite a few blogposts...

  2. Looks like you had a great time! Green with envy.

  3. So glad you're back!! I was in Ireland this time last summer and saw the Cliffs of Mohr, but no country houses. Great post. I'll be on the look out for those books.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I saw those cliffs many years ago and would love to go back some time- but my heard is very much with melancholy old houses too. I think I need another holiday in Ireland.

  4. Sounds like a fun and enriching visit. Lovely photos. I enjoyed going back to visit the older posts.

  5. Lovely to have you back, Moira. Glad that you had a good holiday. There is something so touching about the combination of those lines from Yeats and photos of the place that inspired them.

    1. Thanks Chrissie, and yes, I agree. I love the sense of history you can get from visiting a place - if I had my time over again I would study history I think. I was lucky - I was there with my daughter who did Yeats as a special subject at university, so was full of fascinating information.

  6. Moira, the family often dreams of visiting Ireland. I heard it is a beautiful country.

    1. It is. Terrible weather, but stunningly beautiful. You need to visit some time Prashant.


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