Yeats Country Guide - Day Two Glencar to Yeats's Grave to Rosses Point
Welcome to Day Two of the Yeats Country Guide. If you are in a bit of a rush and want a straight answer on which of the three guides you definitely must do, then this is it. We took great pride in writing the other two guides, but this day has you visiting possibly the most famous grave in Ireland – Michael Collins’s shrine notwithstanding. While visiting a grave may seem a grim task, this feels more like a pilgrimage and a chance to pay homage. Yeats of course took great pride in having his grave where an ancestor had worked, where the surrounding landscape played a key part in Irish mythology and of course in penning that most enigmatic of epitaphs: ‘Cast a cold eye on life, on death horseman pass by.’
We’ve devised a route that ensures you can take plenty of good photos and get to the key locations. Glencar lake is just inside of County Leitrim and the council can be proud of the fine job they have done in ensuring the facilities are up to scratch – just don’t bring pets. Try and organise a time of day when the place is not too hectic with tourists and families – it can get busy in high season and the road is narrow on the way back to the N15.
Map of Day Two Points of Interest (POIs) locations
Click on each POI for more info
Day Two - starting point
N16 to Manorhamilton
GPS Location: 54.282961, -8.45329
Narrators: Mary Murphy and Sean McMahon
Get yourself on to the N16 to Manorhamilton in order to start Day Two of this Yeats Country Guide. It’s windy and shaded in parts, so definitely have that high vis jacket on so everyone can see you if you’re cycling the route! In our audio piece. Mary and Sean set the scene on Yeats’s fascination with the Celtic twilight. Today’s route encompasses some of its famous sites before coming to Yeats’s resting spot.
The N16 is a scenic route that will take you high above Glencar valley on your left within the next five miles. Ignoring the first sign for the Glencar waterfall, we’ll be taking you anti-clockwise around the lake to get to the waterfall. Carry on out the N16 and look out for a viewing park of the lake on the left. After this, you will be driving another 2 kilometres before turning off left where signposted. Click here to be brought to the viewpoint by Google Maps. Please note the map above has included extra points of interest for the sake of directions only e.g. the Glencar car park or the turn off for the N15 to help you move with ease on the tour. These POIs aren’t included below as they do not have audio attached to them.
Glencar lake and waterfall
GPS location: 54.340271, -8.37323
We’ve guided you to the car park by Glencar lake. It’s got clean WCs available and adequate parking for everything from buses to motorhomes. This car park may be the best place from which to do a proper walking tour of the area. Please note, no dogs are permitted at the waterfall.
The waterfall is believed to be the site which inspired The Stolen Child and is an enthralling place. Make sure you climb the 100 or so easy steps on the looped walk, right past the waterfall to get to the hazel bush where rags or votives have been tied to it where believers have made wishes. Any fans of The Stolen Child song will enjoy the accompanying video featuring the deep voiced man who read the words.
After the waterfall, you’ll be continuing your anti-clockwise journey around the lake taking you near Ben Bulben on your right. There are one or two lakeside scenic spots to pull over and enjoy the view away from the hoards who may well be at the waterfall.
By the shores of Glencar lake
GPS Location: 54.33762, -8.404841
One of the many tranquil spots along the lake where the scenery is worth stopping for. Maybe even a place for a picnic?
In our audio piece, we move away from fairy lore and onto Irish mythology as under Ben Bulben is where the Fianna warriors hunted and where we tell you the story of Diarmaid and Grainne. To find out more about Grainne, Fionn, the Fianna and Cúchulainn, go to our Irish Mythology archive.
A Faery Song (sung by the people of Faery over Diarmaid and Grainne, in their bridal sleep under a cromlech)
We who are old, old and gay, O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told: Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love; And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above: Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men. Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then: Us who are old, old and gay, O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years, If all were told.
As they were on the run from her husband Fionn McCumhaill, Diarmaid and Grainne (Diarmuid and Grania) are said to have spent the night in the shelter of a cave in Benbulben, known as Diarmaid and Grainne’s Bed.
We’ll be guiding you along Ben Bulben on your right until you get back to the N15 main road. At this T junction, take a left turn. It’s a short drive – note just before Drumcliffe, take the signs for Lissadell House on the right. if in a hurry, skip this step, but ensure you hear the Yeats debate! Click here to be brought to the N15 turnoff by Google Maps.
Narrators: Pro Yeats Mary vs Anti Yeats Sean!
You are driving through Carney, a small but well-serviced village, with two good restaurants and pubs, a Chinese take away and even a football team called Yeats FC!
Carry on to Lissadell House. In our audio piece, Mary and Sean give their honest opinion of Yeats and his legacy – it makes for a lively listening! Click here to be brought to Lissadell by Google Maps.
Please note that Lissadell House has a limited opening season. Best to check the Lissadell website when planning your visit closer to the time. Lissadell is famous as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising; the first woman to be elected to Dáil Eireann, where she served as Minister for Labour, and also the first woman to be elected to Westminster Parliament in London. Her brother, Josslyn, created at Lissadell one of the premier horticultural estates in Europe. Yeats was friendly with the Gore Booths, and has immortalised Lissadell in his famous poem.
In a great coup for Sligo, Lissadell House managed to persuade Yeats fan Leonard Cohen to perform here in 2010. As you’ll see from the accompanying video, Leonard even managed to recite the famous poem above.
Return to Carney and to the N15 where you’ll be turning right for Drumcliff which you’ll effectively be in when you take that left turn. You’ll be heading towards the round tower and parking past it in the Drumcliffe church car park.
Drumcliffe church car park
You are now in the village of Drumcliffe, firmly put on the map when W.B. Yeats’s remains were interred here some nine years after his death in France in 1939. After a long and somber route back from Roquebrune where it lay in state both there and in Sligo Town, he was laid to rest as per his instructions in “Under Ben Bulben”. In an ironic twist, the Government was represented by its Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Sean McBride, son of Maud Gonne.
Yeat’s Grave, Drumcliffe church
After parking up, go to the the front of the church on the right. Yeats’s grave is marked in front of you with Ben Bulben visible through the cemetery trees. If the church is open, ensure you pay it a visit. If the excellent booklet by Derick Bingham entitled ‘The Eye of the Heart’ is still in print, it’s well worth a read. The resting place of Ireland’s greatest poet, William Butler Yeats, is as near perfect a location as you’d expect for such an evocative wordsmith.
We’ll be turning left on to the N15 coming out of the car park and heading towards Rosses’ Point via Rathcormack village.
Rathcormack is a small village at the base of a valley. You may wish to take note of an art installation honouring Countess Markievicz by the roadside on the left. Please note traffic moves fast in this section.
Rising on a brae from it towards Sligo, get ready to turn right at the top of the brae for Rosses Point – it is signposted although, please note the sign is for Kintogher.
Yeats loved Rosses Point and first experimented with the paranormal here, encouraged by his cousin’s housekeeper who had the ˜second sight’. Today excellent restaurants and pubs meet all your needs, even if they can’t predict your future!
Yeats stayed at Elsinore House when he was in Rosses Point. It is now a ruin and is just below the statue in the picture above on the way to the pier. There’s talk every few years of doing up the derelict site, but as you’ll see, nothing has happened!
After Rosses Point, make your way back to Sligo Town. In town, we have listed the key Yeats sites you may wish to visit.
We hope you’ve managed to complete Day Two in one piece with a good thirst and a healthy appetite. Sligo Town can ensure both needs are met – the town has a lot to offer as the website below will demonstrate, so don’t be in any hurry to leave just yet!
Try our Donegal’s Hallowed Sites if interested in further adventures across this most scenic of regions. If you enjoyed this guide, please ensure you let others know on social media or feel free to leave us feedback.
John Ward, Racontour Productions, August 2022