Ms Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, at the Launch of Yeats Day 2015 in the National Library on Tuesday 28th April 2015

Senator, Ladies and Gentleman I am delighted to be with you this evening to formally launch, Yeats Day 2015.

As you all know, the Yeats Day initiative commenced in 2012 with the aim of celebrating the works and increasing an awareness of one of this country’s most celebrated poets, William Butler Yeats and to highlight, his strong links to County Sligo.

This year, Yeats Day is a particularly special event, as it celebrates the anniversary of the birth of the poet 150 years ago.

After looking at the programme of events scheduled for Yeats Day 2015 I have no doubt that this will be the most successful to date.

I am particularly taken with the Poet Laureate event which will take place on the 14th June.

This will feature the National Poets/Laureates from Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and London

The event will take place in the presence of our President Mr Michael D Higgins, himself a distinguished poet.

This is the first time that such an event has taken place and will be the cultural highlight of 2015 for many.

Yeats Day 2015 focuses not just on the work on the poet and his family but also their influences on society in Ireland and around the world.

For example, the architectural competition entitled ‘Clay and Wattles Made’ will see the creation of a  temporary cabin on the Lake Isle of Innisfree for the summer as a tribute to  the poem of the same name.

I understand that the competition, organised by the Institute of Sligo, was hugely popular and attracted entrants from the around the world.

Yeats Day is of course an integral part of the Yeats 2015 programme.

I am delighted to say that my Department included Yeats 2015 in the Decade of Centenaries Programme  and has allocated half a million Euro towards the programme of events scheduled during Yeats 2015, including Yeats Day itself.

A National Steering Committee, chaired by Senator Susan O’Keeffe, is overseeing the implementation and development of the cultural programme for Yeats 2015.

The Committee membership comprises representives from Ireland’s artistic and cultural life and also has a strong administrative representation.

The Committee has delivered and continues to deliver  a programme of substantial cultural value.

This is evident by the worldwide recognition and support that Yeats 2015 has received.

In the US President Obama was presented with special edition of Yeats poetry on St Patrick’s Day alongside the traditional bowl of shamrock on which was engraved lines from the poem ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.

In London the words of Yeats grace train carriages of the Underground as part of the Poems on the Underground project.

Indeed, I was in London myself as part of the St Patrick’s Day festivities and I was delighted to see how thoroughly the Yeats initiative has been embraced there.

Closer to home  the ‘Yeats Among School Children‘  project is well advanced and a publication showing artwork based on a visual interpretation of a Yeats poem by our primary school students will be published later in the year.

The success of the Yeats 2015 continues to attract major attention and I know that a number of groups, both nationally and internationally are coming forward to have their own inspired Yeats events listed in the programme.

I commend Senator Susan O’Keeffe and her National Steering Committee for their work to date on Yeats 2015.

I think it is most fitting coincidence that the Yeats Day festival takes place in the right in the middle of Yeats 2015.

It will be a great half way milestone to the yearlong celebration.

Finally I would like to thank the Yeats Day 2015 Committee for inviting me here this evening to launch its programme.

I would encourage all those interested in the work of one of the world’s literary geniuses to visit Sligo between the 11th and 14th June and soak up the cultural atmosphere which will be radiating from every square mile of Yeats County.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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