Lough Gill, lies close to Sligo Town. The tradition says that Gille died of grief after Omra and Romra, her father and suitor, died in single combat.
After her death her handmaiden cried and cried and so the Lough Gill was formed. Omra and Romra are said to be buried under two Neolithic monuments on Cairns Hill.
There are twenty two named islands on the lake, among them Cottage and Church islands, and of course Innisfree, which lies close to the south east shore of the lake, opposite Parke’s Castle.
This poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree was composed by Yeats on December 15 1888 and published in 1893. In his Four Years: 1887-1891, part of his Autobiography, 1921, he says:
‘I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water. From the sudden remembrance came my poem ’Innisfree,’ my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music.’
The poem outlines Yeats’s need for peace and tranquillity, unsurprisingly it was the uninhabited island of Innisfree that provided the inspiration for this thought in what would become one of the most enduring and best known of his works.
A number of recordings were made by the BBC of Yeats reciting this (and other) poems in the 1930s. He tends to chant the lines in monotone, an interesting aspect of his work, in particular as the imagery itself he describes in the poem is so evocative.
from The Rose (1893)
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Parking: Car park
Walking Trail: Yes
Longitude: 54.24407 Latitude: -8.3533819
View location on Google Map