Lecture series: The Yeats Family with Clare O’ Gara

To celebrate Yeats2015, The Model hosts a special lecture series once a month which will explore the life and work of the Yeats family. The starting point in this series will focus on the life of John B. Yeats and will examine how his bohemian lifestyle affected not only his own life but also the lives of his family. Understanding John B. Yeats is the key to understanding the formative years and adulthood of his very talented family.

Clare O’Gara has been a Sligo resident for almost two decades. She is interested in History, particularly cultural history and has enjoyed exploring and learning about Sligo’s rich cultural past. A particular highpoint was her role at Lissadell House which offered her the opportunity to research, compile and deliver tours to visitors, including specialist tours for visiting academics and students. An enthusiast of lifelong learning, she has pursued a journey of academic studies starting with a Diploma in History of Art at UCC. After teaching History of Art in Sligo for a period, Clare decided to complete a BA in History of Art & Drama at Queen’s University in Belfast. More recently, she has received an MA in Drama & Performance Studies at UCD.

6 – 7.30pm

Thursday 24 September
Lecture 1 John Butler Yeats: A Restless Life
This lecture will focus on the life and work of John B. Yeats, father of William, Jack, Elizabeth and Susan, and husband of Susan Yeats née Pollexfen. It will examine how and in what way his bohemian lifestyle affected not only his own life but also the lives of his wife and children. Understanding John B. Yeats is the key to understanding the formative years and adulthood of his very talented family.

Thursday 15 October
Lecture 2 Jack Butler Yeats: A life lived through painting
Jack B. Yeats was different from his siblings because he mixed with the ordinary people of Sligo during his childhood here. His maternal Pollexfen grandfather, who was his role model, brought him to all the Sligo fairs, docks, circuses and races meetings, which fired his imagination and had a profound effect on his perception of life and his art. As well as outstanding works of art, his paintings are a remarkable testament to the social and political conditions of his time. This lecture will include several of his paintings that are part of the Model and Niland Collection.

Thursday 19 November
Lecture 3 Lily and Lolly Yeats: Transcending the woman’s role
The Yeats sisters whose work, until recently, was least celebrated of the Yeats family were prolific and creative craftswomen and pioneers in their field. The lecture will look at how they went beyond the boundaries of women’s role of their class and time. It will also deal with the Irish cultural revival that included the Gaelic League and coincided with the rise of Feminism, Suffragism and radical women’s activism. Their lives as competent and successful businesswomen and craft workers, combined with their social activism, which involved training working class young women in needlework and printing skills, makes a fascinating story. They also introduced them to the newly confident Irish cultural identity with visits to the Abbey Theatre.

Thursday 17 December
Lecture 4 William Butler Yeats: Dramatist
The lecture will take a look at the Irish Literary revival and how the plays of WB Yeats coupled with the Gaelic League brought about a whole new consciousness and identity to Irish society.This way of thinking was eventually to lead to the 1916 Rebellion that Yeats expressed in his Poem ‘a Terrible Beauty is born’. The Lecture will touch on the class structure at this time, his connection with Lissadell and the Gore-Booth sisters, Eva and Constance. It will also address the revival of the Irish Culture and language that was inspirational for his plays and poetry, as well as the Galway connection and the important women in his life.

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