Drumcliffe – Final Resting Place of William B. Yeats

Under Bare Benbulben’s Head In Drumcliffe Churchyard Yeats Is Laid:

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William B. Yeats’ Grave, Drumcliffe..

Driving south from Donegal to Sligo, we make a stop at Drumcliffe, a town best known as the final the resting place of William B. Yeats.  Yeats’ grave is in the churchyard of St. Columba’s Church where his great grandfather, John Yeats, was Rector in the early nineteenth century.

Although Yeats was born and educated in Dublin he always considered Sligo to be his home.  It was Yeats wish that he be buried under Ben Bulben.

Yeats Died in France

William Yeats died in France on 28th January 1939 and due to the War his body could not be returned to Ireland.  He was buried in Rocquebrune near Monaco. It was not until 1948 that his body was returned to Ireland and interred at Drumcliffe.

A year before his death, Yeats’ composed these words which hint at where and how he is to be buried.

Under bare Benbulben’s head
In Drumcliffe churchyard Yeats is laid
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut;
Cast a cold eye
On life, On death.
Horseman pass by!

Yeats’ Wishes

Visitors to Drumcliffe will see a very plain grave for this great Irish Nobel Prize winning author, poet and dramatist.  According to Yeats’ wishes, the headstone is a simple limestone slab, on which are cut the words:

Cast a cold eye
On Life, On death.
Horseman pass by!

Yeats’ wife George is buried here as well.  In St Columba’s Church is a memorial to Yeats’ great grandfather.

There is also a gift shop here where visitors can enjoy a nice cup of tea and some light snacks.

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  1. avatarPaul Machnik says

    I’m told my ancestors, the Soden’s (on my mothers side) are buried just inside the walls of St. Columba’s Church. Have you seen the inscriptions perhaps? Paul Machnik, Montreal, Quebec

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