The Yeats Connection

There are several Yeats family associated houses at Rosses point. Moyle Lodge and Bawnmore Lodge both stand close to the remaining entrance gate to Elsinore House, which was owned by Henry Middleton, Uncle of the poet, W.B. and painter Jack Yeats. Their grand-aunt, Mary Yeats, lived in a small two-storeyed house called Seaview on the right of the Sligo-Rosses Point road. She was a farmer.

Moyle Lodge was owned by the Pollexfen family, cousins of the Yeats, and here W. B. and Jack spent many a summer. Bawnmore Lodge, next door, was once a Middleton family house, also relations of the Yeats.

Elsinore House, which stands in sad decay near the pier at Rosses Point, was built by John Black, a successful Sligo smuggler.The house, along with the entire Rosses area was purchased by Henry Middleton in 1867.

Mr. Middleton spent several thousand pounds on improvements to Rosses Point. He granted building leases, encouraging the growth of the area as a seaside resort. Hotels sprung up, along with many attractive houses. The place rapidly expanded and became completely changed in comparison to the early 1800s when there was not a single house in the village.

Elsinore House commanded the sea between Rosses Point and Coney Island, once a smuggler's paradise. Smuggler's guns stood on its lawns and in the turret on the grounds overlooking the channel. A tunnel used for smuggling ran from the house under the sea.

In those days it was believed that the house was haunted by the ghosts of smugglers who used to tap on the window panes.

Elsinore was named after the Danish Royal Castle of Elsinore which commands the Kattlegat, the sea between Denmark and Sweden. William and Jack Yeats spent their summers boating, swimming or fishing, at Elsinore House.

Their uncle, Henry Middleton, was very reclusive, allowing no-one entry to his house, only the garden-boy and the postman.

Both William and Jack were inspired by their memories of Rosses Point.

William remembered Henry Middleton in his poem:

My name is Henry Middleton,
I have a small demense,
On a storm bittern green,
I scrub its floors and make my bed,
I cook and change my plate,
The post and garden-boy alone
Have keys to my old gate.

Jack Yeats' painting "Leaving the Far Point" commemorates a walk at Rosses Point with his wife, Cottie, and his uncle, George Pollexfen, who carried a stick. Jack has included himself, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. In 1954 he presented this painting to the Mayor of Sligo.

Part of his letter reads: "It has been said that I spent my boyhood in Sligo and when I left it was to be a student of art far away. That is true, and also it is true that for the next twenty years I spent every summer at Rosses Point, that Garavogue gateway to the beautiful, old, ever active, and intelligent, ever lovely and ever young, City of Sligo."

"Leaving the Far Point" is now part of the permanent collection of Yeats pictures to be seen in the Sligo Museum and Art Gallery in Stephen Street.