Over the June bank holiday, I was out at Rosses Point in Sligo and took a walk to Deadman’s Point. I wanted to see the old River Pilot Watch-house, this old ruin of a cottage recently appeared on the Bob Geldof documentary called “A Fanatic Heart”, which was commissioned by RTE for their reflecting the rising series. I knew the Yeats family had an old summer house at Rosses Point, but I wasn’t aware of the exact location and I didn’t know about the Yeats connection to the River Pilot’s old Watch-house. Bob Geldof can be controversial and he’s no shrinking violet and while I didn’t agree with everything he said in the documentary, it was good to get another viewpoint. I found the documentary very interesting and it was great to see some of the places in Sligo that inspired William Butler Yeats.
When William and Jack Yeats were boys they spent their summers in Sligo and stayed with their Grandparents, the Pollexfen’s, their uncle Henry Middleton owned the nearby Elisnore lodge at Rosses Point, which now lies in ruins nearby, covered in ivy. They would visit the River Pilots cottage and he would regale them with old stories of ghosts, smugglers and pirates that visited the bay. Both brothers remembered their time in Rosses Point fondly and used these stories later in life for inspiration in their respective poetry and paintings. The Jack Yeats painting called Memory harbour depicts Rosses Point and the River Pilots cottage.