Yeats’s Big Day on Sandymount Green

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Sandymount Green came alive on 15th June with birthday celebrations for William Butler Yeats, who would have been 149 on the day.

Anthony Jordan, who was Principal of the Enable Ireland School for many years, was the driving force behind the celebrations. For 15 years, he used to bring his pupils down to Sandymount Green on Yeats’s birthday to read poetry, and brought Yeats’s work into the classroom whenever he could.

“When I’d need to cover for a teacher I’d invariably bring a book of Yeats’s work (one that his wife bought him in 1969 and he still has to this day) in with me,” he told NewsFour.

Four years ago, Dublin City Council was looking for community development ideas. He approached them, alongside SAMRA (Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association) with the idea of celebrating Yeats; they agreed, and it’s been going from strength to strength every year since. Jordan, who has written and published three biographies about Yeats, went on to tell us, “My main attitude to it is that it’s a non-celebrity thing; it’s for us ordinary local people and it’s them who we invite to get up and read. We ask people to either read, recite or sing.”

A solid hour and a half of Yeats’s masterful words later, and after the 20 or so scheduled readers were finished, Anthony called to the crowd to see if anyone else wanted to add anything. He had a volunteer straight away, who read his selected piece with great skill and aplomb. Other special entertainment came from the 6th class of St Matthew’s School, who were conducted expertly by Jessica Rothwell, and a beautiful harp recital by Deirdre Seaver.

Special mention has to be given to a man whose name keeps coming up around local Sandymount events: Joe McCarthy, a behind-the-scenes hero whom Jordan considers as his partner in the Yeats celebrations. McCarthy supplied and set up all the PA equipment and shelters for this and many other SAMRA events, three of which were held over that weekend. He and his partner Valerie even read a poem on the day.

Keep the day free next year, as it will be a very special occasion. The celebrations will be the biggest yet, as it will be Yeats’s 150th birthday, and Jordan is planning a theme for the day, one that focuses on the love triangle between Yeats, Maud Gonne and Major John McBride.

Pictured: Joe Mc Carthy reads from Yeats surrounded by pupils from St Matthew’s School.

By Steve Kingston