Elsinore House

February 13, 2000
The Editor,
The Sligo Champion,
Wine Street,

The Yeats Society of Sligo should be applauded for supporting the campaign to preserve the last Irish residence of the great poet.
Riversdale, in Dublin should be preserved as a national monument and turned in to a museum. It will, undoubtedly attract thousands of visitors a year, both from home and overseas.
To demolish this place of inspiration to build apartments would be a betrayal of the legacy WB Yeats left to our country.

But while I laud the Society’s efforts I wonder whether its members should turn their attentions closer to home.

Here in Rosses Point another house which featured just as prominently in the poet’s life is being neglected to such an extent that it will surely soon disintegrate and be lost for ever.
Elsinore House was owned by Yeats’ Uncle, Henry Middleton. Its ruins lie by the pier overlooking the River, which inspired so much of his poetry. Yeats spent the summers of the formative years of his childhood there.
In his autobiography, Reveries over Childhood and Youth, he wrote:

"There were great cellars under the house, for it had been a smuggler’s house, a hundred years before, and sometimes three loud raps would come upon the drawing-room window at sundown, setting all the dogs barking: some dead smuggler giving his accustomed signal. One night I heard them very distinctly and my cousins often heard them, and later on my sister."

Sadly, the current owners of Elsinore appear not to appreciate the legacy they have inherited and it must now be only a matter of months before the house is lost forever. Supporting the campaign to save Riversdale, is as I said, laudable, but surely the Yeats Society of Sligo should be just as vocal about a house with strong Yeatsian connections, which is much closer to home.

Kieran Devaney