The Yeats House

Did you know William Butler Yeats’ ancestors may have already carved a small piece into Irish History and modern language centuries before WB Yeats was born? The connection dates all the way back to 1492 and takes place in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

The Door of Reconciliation Story

Back in the 15th Century, two prominent Irish Families were involved in a bitter dispute over the position of Lord Deputy – The Butlers of Ormonde and the FitzGeralds of Kildare. In 1492 the feud came to a clash between the two families just outside the City Walls.

The Phrase “Chancing your Arm”

The Butler Family sought refuge in the Chapter House of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the FitzGeralds sought to make peace and requested the Butler Family to come out and shake hands. The Butlers refused, fearing they would be attacked. As a gesture of Goodwill, Gerald FitzGerald ordered a hole to be cut in the door. Mr. FitzGerald then placed his arm through the hole in the door to prove his attempt at reconciliation was honourable. Thus the phrase “Chancing your Arm” was born – Mr. FitzGerald risked having his arm cut off, but Mr. Butler shook his hand through the door and the two Families declared peace.

What does this have to do with WB Yeats?

Here’s where it gets interesting!

If we follow Yeats’ Family Tree, his great-great-Grandfather Benjamin Yeats married Mary Butler, a direct descendant of the Butler Ormondes of Kildare, descendant of the first Earls of Ormonde. After their marriage, they decided to keep the name Butler in the Family. So this indicates that Yeats’ Great-Great-Grandmother was a direct descendant of the feuding Butler Family!

Of course, this story is only speculation, but historical facts do point towards Yeats’ ancestors already leaving their stamp long before William cemented his own imprint on Irish History.

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Biography of William Butler Yeats:

WB Yeats was born in Sandymount, Co Dublin on 13th June 1865 to a family of Anglo-Irish descent. His Mother Susan Pollexfen  was from a wealthy merchant family in Sligo. Shortly after his birth Yeats’ family relocated to his Mother’s hometown of Merville, which William would later describe as his childhood and spiritual home. In 1867 the family moved to England to support William’s father Johns career as an artist. They returned to Harold’s Cross, Co Dublin, in 1880 and William began attending Erasmus Smith High School. He began writing poetry aged 17, and later moved on to tales of Irish Mythology and Folklore. The family moved back to the UK in 1887.

William turned to Irish Mythology and Folklore for inspiration early in his career. In 1891 Yeats published his first works – the novella John Sherman and the short story Dhoya.  The Yeats family returned to London in 1887 and thus began William’s career as a poet. He co-founded the “Rhymer’s Club” which was a group of poets who met regularly in Fleet St., London. His first significant poem was the fantasy work “The Island of Statues”.

In 1896 Yeats met Lady Gregory who encouraged him to write more dramatic prose focusing on his Irish heritage. Yeats would then become acquainted with other Irish writes including JM Synge, Sean O’Casey and Douglas Hyde (he later became Ireland’s first President) who, among others, would forge the “Irish Literary Revival”. In 1899 the Irish Literary Theatre was founded to hold Irish and Celtic plays. Unfortunately it was not a long-term success and folded after 2 years. Yeats later helped found the Abbey Theatre which he remained heavily involved with until his death.

In 1889 Yeats met 23 year old Maude Gonne, whom he fell hopelessly in love with and drew inspiration from for many of his later works. William proposed to Maude 5 times in total, but she continuously refused him and married Major John Mc Bride in 1903 which greatly depressed WB Yeats. Maude divorced her husband in Paris in 1905 and re-kindled her friendship with William. They spent one night together, but they would never become lovers. In 1916 Yeats was 51 and felt the time was right to marry and produce an heir. After Maude Gonne refused his final proposal, Yeats married 25 year old Georgie Hyde-Lees and they had 2 children together.

William Butler Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. In 1922 he was appointed to the first Irish Senate, again in 1925, and retired in 1928 due to ill health. He died in France on the 28th January 1939 aged 73. He was buried in France, but in 1948 his body was moved to his beloved Drumcliff, Co Sligo. Ironically, the man who oversaw Yeats’ re-burial was none other than Sean Mac Bride, son of Maude Gonne Mac Bride, the then Minister of External Affairs.


The 3 Bedroom Beckett House

Samuel Beckett Three Bed Beckett House
Our delightful Three Bed Beckett House draws its inspiration from the leading Irish writer Samuel Beckett. He was born in Foxrock, Dublin on Good Friday 13th April 1906 and died in Paris on 22nd December 1989. He is widely acknowledged as one of the last “Modernist” Writers. Samuel Beckett was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.

Novelist, Theatre Director, Poet and Playwright, Beckett’s work has been described as “Black Comedy” or “Gallows humour”. He was educated in Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh and later Trinity College where he studied French, Italian and English. His childhood was spent in Dublin, but he lived most of his adult life in Paris and he wrote many later pieces in fluid French.

View our 3 Bedroom Beckett House house

Interesting Facts About Samuel Beckett:

  • He was stabbed in the chest in 1938 in Paris and almost died, but his long-time friend and fellow writer James Joyce intervened and secured him a private hospital room to expedite his recovery. He then dropped the charges against his attacker because he found him “mannerly and likeable”.
  • It’s rumoured that he had a falling out in later life with James Joyce after spurning the romantic advances of Joyce’s daughter, Lucia.   Read about James Joyce Here 
  • As a resident in France, Beckett joined the French Revolution in 1940. After escaping the Gestapo, he fled South to Roussillon in 1942 and continued his campaign of sabotage by storing armaments in his back yard. He was eventually awarded Croix de Guerre and the Medaille de la Resistance by the French Government for his efforts in thwarting the German Occupation.
  • He learned he had won the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature while on holiday in Tunisia. Notoriously publicity-shy, he refused to accept his Nobel Prize in person so he wouldn’t have to give a speech. Beckett’s publisher accepted his award on his behalf.
  • His famous quote from his 1983 novella Worstward Ho “Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better” has been such a source of inspiration world wide that entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss have been known to reference the Beckett “Fail Better” quote for motivation.

Novelist, Theatre Director, Poet and Playwright, Beckett’s work has been described as “Black Comedy” or “Gallows humour”. He was educated in Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh and later Trinity College where he studied French, Italian and English. His childhood was spent in Dublin, but he lived most of his adult life in Paris and he wrote many later pieces in fluid French.

Some of his notable works include:

Molloy (1951)
Malone Dies (1951)
The Unnamable (1953)
Waiting for Godot (1953)
Watt (1953)
Endgame (1957)
Krapp’s Last Tape (1958)
How It Is (1961)

Maydenhayes takes its name from the 60ft Maiden Tower on Mornington Beach. The Tower dates all the way back to the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I – in fact, some speculate the Maiden Tower was named for Queen Elizabeth, the Maiden Queen. And how did the Lady’s Finger get its name? Read below to find out!

What is the Maiden Tower?

The Tower was built as a beacon to aid Sailors navigating their way into Drogheda, and as a Landmark for the mouth of the River Boyne. The tower served as a viewing post during the Elizabethan Wars with Spain (1585 – 1603) to alert the authorities of approaching enemy ships.


The Legend of the Maiden Tower and the Lady’s Finger

Lady's Finger Obelisk, MorningtonThe legend that has filtered down through generations is a classic story of romance and tragedy, as all good folk tales are. A beautiful local woman was in love with a local man who was called away to war. Before leaving, the woman made her lover promise he would return to her, one way or another. They struck a bargain so that if the man survived the war, he would return on a ship with white sails, and if he did not survive, the ship would arrive to port decked in black sails.

The young woman kept her vigil at the top of the Maiden Tower for many months, until she finally saw her love’s ship on the horizon. As it came closer, she could see the sails adorning the ship were black. Overwhelmed with grief, the legend goes that the young woman threw herself off the top of the tower so as to join her lover in death.

The Lady’s Finger, a 13ft high obelisk, was said to have been erected in her memory. Reportedly the term “Lady’s Finger” was coined to represent the young lady’s ring finger, which never received a wedding ring.

The Maiden Tower is now closed to the public unfortunately, but the legend still remains and you can still visit the site on Mornington Beach. Mornington Beach and Village is steeped in Irish History, and you can read more here.


Shipwrecked Remains on Mornington Beach

The 4 Bedroom Joyce House

In honour of Bloomsday, June the 16th, we want to impart to you, Reader, some interesting information about renowned Irish writer James Joyce – one of our prolific inspirations for Maydenhayes, the 4 bedroom Joyce House.

James Joyce

Why is it called Bloomsday?

“Bloom” refers to the central character of Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses. “Bloom’s Day” – the Day of Leopold Bloom.

Why is it held on the 16th of June? 

The 16th of June is the day Ulysses is set, and refers to the 16th of June 1904, when James Joyce and his future wife Nora Barnacle went on their first date.


View our delightful 4 Bedroom Joyce House


Lesser-known facts about James Joyce you might find intriguing: 

Joyce’s daughter Lucia was diagnosed Schizophrenic by prominent psychologist Carl Jung. After reading Ulysses, Jung declared James was schizophrenic as well.

He could have been Dr. James Joyce – after graduating UCD in 1902, he travelled to Paris to study medicine, but dropped out.

Some of James Joyce’s college friends from UCD would later become prominent figures in Irish history, in particular Tom Kettle, Frances Sheehy-Skeffington, and Oliver St. John Gogarty.

Joyce was an accomplished tenor and won the bronze medal at the Feis Ceoil in 1904.

With the help of his Italian financial backers, James Joyce opened Ireland’s first cinema in December 1909 called Cinematograph Volta on 45 Mary Street. James dropped out of the enterprise after 7 months. The cinema was never hugely profitable and closed in 1948. You’ll find a Penneys department store there today.

His eyesight got so bad that at one stage he was forced to write on large sheets of paper in red crayon.

Joyce and his wife Nora exchanged many explicit love-letters while James was visiting Dublin, as Nora feared James may become “distracted” by the younger courtesans. One of these “erotic letters” from James to Nora sold at Sotheby’s in 2004 for a record £240,800.

He was afraid of dogs (Cynophobia) after being attacked by a dog at age 5. He was also afraid of thunder and lightning (Astraphobia) since his superstitious aunt described storms to a young and impressionable Joyce as “God’s wrath”.

The Irish Naval Service names an off-shore patrol vessel after him, LE James Joyce

Short biography of James Joyce:
The Joyce

4 Bed 3 Bath House the Joyce in MaydenhayesThe Joyce

James Joyce was born in 1882 in 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, the eldest child to John Stanislaus Joyce and May Jane (May) Murray.  He attended O’Connell School, and then joined the Jesuit School Clongowes Wood College which he had to leave in 1892 when his father could no longer afford the fees. John Joyce was declared bankrupt in Stubbs Gazette in 1893, but managed to secure a place for 13 year old James in the distinguished Belvedere College at a reduced cost. James completed his secondary education and went on to study English, French and Italian in UCD. After university he moved to Paris, but returned home when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently passed.

In 1904 James met Nora Barnacle, and they began what would be a life-long devoted relationship. That same year James and Nora left Ireland and moved to Zurich. They would never again live full-time in Ireland. Together, they had 2 children – Lucia and George. They spent many years first in Zurich, then 10 years in Trieste, Italy, before settling in Paris for 20 years. They moved back to Zurich again while the Second World War raged, but James would not live to see the conclusion of the war.

His first published book, Dubliners, is a collection of 15 short stories of Dublin life which is still popular to this day. “When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart

Ulysses, based  on Homer’s epic the Odyssey, was completed in Paris and published in 1922. After its publication, the US dubbed the content “obscene” and promptly ordered the Post Office to confiscate issues of the magazine that had published Joyce’s work. Fines were imposed against the editors, leading to a censorship battle. This negative publicity only served to hype up the novel and increase sales.  He didn’t write another word of prose for over a year, but then began his second masterpiece “Finnegan’s Wake”.

James’s health, hampered by his intermittent bouts with alcoholism and occasional financial mis-management, declined as he aged. In particular he had many surgeries for his eyes, rendering him near-blind. He resorted to wearing an eye-patch for years. James died on the 11th of January 1941 following surgery for a perforated ulcer.

I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday, or some previous day” – James Joyce

Notable Works:


A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man



Finnegans Wake


The 4 Bedroom Heaney House

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was born on 13th April 1939 in Co Derry in Northern Ireland, one of 9 children born to Margaret and Patrick Heaney.

Seamus Heaney

When he was 12 he won a scholarship to St. Columb’s College boarding school in Derry, and at 18 he travelled to Belfast to study English Language and Literature at Queen’s University. He then trained as a teacher in St. Joseph’s Teacher Training College. After working for a time as a guest lecturer in the University of California at Berkley, Heaney returned home to Ireland in 1972, settled in Wicklow and began writing full-time as well as giving readings of his work throughout Ireland, the UK and the US. He would later become a visiting Professor at Harvard University and received a tenure position, becoming Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory.

While on placement to St Thomas’s Secondary School in Belfast during his teacher training, he met his mentor writer Michael Mc Laverty, who assisted him in publishing his first work in 1962, and his first major volume Death of a Naturalist was published in 1966. Every reader who studied English at an Irish secondary school will recall 2 poems in particular; you may have learned them by heart if your English Teacher had their way:

Extract from Mid-Term Break

“I sat all morning in the college sick bay

Counting bells knelling classes to a close

At two o’clock my neighbours drove me home”

Heaney wrote this poem for his younger brother Christopher, who died as a result of a car accident when he was 4.

Extract from Digging

“The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them


Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests

I’ll dig with that”

Heaney has affirmed that all of his poems generate from biographical sources, giving us an insight into his childhood and adult life. His poems often reflect his political leanings and “Irishness” – although Heaney was born in Northern Ireland, he always identified himself as Irish. He has received a litany of awards during his illustrious career, including the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature.

4 Bed 3 Bath A-Rated Luxury Home

He was elected Saoi of Aosdana (literal meaning “wise one” – historically the title of the head of a bardic school) in 1997, which is the highest honour bestowed by Aosdána, a state-supported association of Irish creative artists.

Seamus Heaney died on the 30th August 2013 in Blackrock in Co. Dublin and he is buried in his home village of Bellaghy. The day after his death, Heaney was honoured with a 3-minute applause by 81,000 supporters at an All-Ireland football match in recognition of his enormous contribution to Irish culture.

5 Interesting Facts about Seamus Heaney:

  1. According to the BBC, at one time Heaney’s books accounted for two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the UK.
  2. His last words “Noli Timere”: Latin for “Don’t be afraid” were texted to his wife minutes before his death. Heaney often used Latin in his writing as a shorthand caption.
  3. Heaney was a fan of American rapper Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers. In 2003 he quoted: “He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.”
  4. Former President Bill Clinton visited him in hospital after Heaney had suffered a stroke in 2006. Clinton was in Ireland for the Ryder Cup Golf Competition, and took the time to drop into the Donegal hospital where Heaney was convalescing. He also visited the wards and chatted amiably to the staff and patients.
  5. Heaney turned down the position of Laureateship of the United Kingdom, becoming one of 4 poets in 4 centuries to decline – Thomas Gray, Samuel Rogers, and Walter Scott all historically refused the post. The Poet Laureate is appointed by the current Monarch of the British Throne and is expected to write prose for significant national occasions.