It will mark the 150th anniversary of the Nobel-prize winner’s birth on June 13, 1865, and his monumental legacy in Irish literature.
Yeats2015 will present a local, national and international series of exhibitions, performances, educational events, festivals, concerts, readings, talks and screenings, celebrating the poet’s achievement across all art forms.
It is the first time Ireland has honoured any one individual in such a way, despite having so many literary giants to choose from – Shaw, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney, to name only the Nobel-prize winners among them.
Much of Yeats’ writing resonates with descriptions of the landscape that inspired him, particularly County Sligo in the west of Ireland.
This area of remarkable and varied beauty is considered to be the poet’s spiritual home, and in accordance with his wishes he is buried there in a churchyard in the village of Drumcliffe ‘under bare Ben Bulben’s head’.
It is fitting then that the celebrations will be centred on Sligo, already known as Yeats’ Country, a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Yeats’ admirers every year and a stimulating stop along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
There will also be key events in Dublin and Galway and across other counties in Ireland as well as an international dimension in major cities including London, Paris, Tokyo and New York.
Highlights include a worldwide celebration of the poet on Yeats Day (13 June), an exhibition of his father John Yeats’ paintings at the National Gallery, a music and poetry weekend at the National Concert Hall, an expanded Yeats Summer School in Sligo, theatre and dance performances at national arts festivals and widespread literary and poetry events.
The National Library of Ireland in Dublin will host a series of events at its award-winning exhibition, The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats, as will the City Museum in Galway and The Model in Sligo.
There will also be events to celebrate the work of Yeats’ talented sisters Susan and Elizabeth and his brother, the illustrious painter Jack B Yeats.
Alongside illuminating the remarkable breadth and depth of Yeats’ work, Yeats2015 will highlight the creative and cultural vibrancy of contemporary Ireland and the beauty of the Irish landscape.
The Yeats2015 programme is set to draw thousands of literary fans and poetry aficionados from locations as diverse as Japan, America and the UK, keen to explore the land that inspired this renowned literary icon and share that experience.
Yeats received the Nobel Prize for Literature in December 1923, the first Irishman to do so, and was cited by the Nobel Academy as having ’given expression to the spirit of a whole nation’.
Over the years he was inspired by a wide range of subjects, from political events in Ireland, to mythology, to the wild beauty of his native home.
The Chair of Irish Poetry, Paula Meehan, has spoken of the poet’s many sides: entrepreneur, journalist, painter, politician, lover, dramatist, songmaker, memoirist, magician, dreamer and mystic, and most important of all, poet.
She said: “Let us by all means celebrate the many aspects of that myriad minded man, but let us above all, in 2015, agree to celebrate the indomitable, indefatigable, joyous dreamer.”