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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
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yeats collection

State spends €650k on WB Yeats' furniture and letters to his wife

In the past two years, the State has spent €4 million on archive material once belonging to the great Irish poet.

THE STATE HAS bought property of WB Yeats worth over half a million euro, adding to a collection that includes the poet’s library, his dream diary, and letters to author James Joyce.

The National Library of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland, with funding from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has bought archive material of one of Ireland’s most famous poets at a Sotheby’s auction for €650,000.

That sum breaks down in two parts:

  • €500,000 was provided to the National Library for the purchase of a collection of letters between the poet and his wife Georgie (purchase price of €725,000)
  • €150,000 was provided to the National Museum for the purchase of furniture and other artefacts (purchase price of €170,800).

Last year, the State spent €118,000 on 10 letters between James Joyce and Yeats and Yeats’ dream diary; and a further €400,000 to purchase the Yeats family library.

The Sligo poet wrote many famous works that include The Wild Swans of Coole, Sailing to Byzantium, and The Cloths of Heaven.

His most famous work is considered to be The Lake Isle of Innisfree (which, by the way, Yeats hadn’t visited when he first wrote the poem).

In total, the State has spent €4 million on archive material related to the poet.

Minister Heather Humphreys said: “These items will now form part of the national collections of our cultural institutions. In particular, the correspondence acquired by the National Library will significantly enhance what is already the largest collection of Yeats material in the world – a collection which began, as far back as 1936.”

Yeats’ family have also donated his Nobel medal and certificate in 2016, and a further donation of material which is currently being finalised under Section 1003 this year, will have a total value of almost €2.5 million.

Read: Joyce thanks Yeats for his ‘helping hand’ in letters just bought by the State

Read: Obama to Biden: ‘I had to quote an Irish poet and Seamus Heaney was taken’

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