William Butler Yeats Memorial in Dublin reopens after conservation
The EUR 300,000 project has rejuvenated the hidden gem of St Stephen's Green Park
- July 09, 2020 16:00
William Butler Yeats Memorial – a Dublin hidden gem attracting over four and a half million visitors a year, reopened yesterday following an extensive programme of conservation works, the Office of Public Works announced. The EUR 300,000 project to rejuvenate the long-overlooked part of St Stephen's Green Park began last November. It included the conservation of the iconic sculpture ‘Knife Edge’ by internationally renowned sculptor Henry Moore, repair and re-laying of surrounding pavements, steps and terraces; and installation of handrails to improve accessibility to the Memorial.
Homage to a great poet and recreational area
A preferred place of respite for many Dubliners, W.B. Yeats Memorial is situated in an area known as The Mount – an amphitheatre formed by a series of irregular terraces. The amphitheatre and the memorial garden were designed not only to serve as a backdrop to Moore’s sculpture, but as a performance space for oration and theatre in the round, reflecting Yeats’ work as a poet & playwright, and as an informal gathering place.
The W.B. Yeats Memorial Committee proposed at the time that the memorial to Ireland’s national poet and Nobel Prize winner be arranged in St Stephens Green, as the park was one of Yeats' favourite haunts. The Memorial was unveiled by then Prime Minister Jack Lynch on 26 October 1967, but over the years has gradually fallen into disrepair.
"The whole plaza was overgrown and the sculpture was very much hidden. So you couldn't really see that there was even a Henry Moore in this part of the park. A lot of people never knew it was here," conservator Jason Ellis told RTÉ.
Moore's abstract bronze statue was funded by Irish American Philanthropist Mr. J. Kelly and Córas Tráchtála Teoranta and donated by the W.B. Yeats Memorial Committee. Its location was specifically chosen for the views of the lake and waterfall that the setting commands.
Place to reflect on Yeats works
In front of the sculpture, there is a plaque which explains the statue in the context of the Memorial. Its creator was Michael Biggs, an eminent sculptor and graphic designer known for the Arbour Hill Memorial Wall and the Series B Irish Banknotes (circulation 1976-1992).
The Office of Public Works which has commissioned and managed the project says the restored memorial area will offer the public a place to quietly contemplate and reflect on Yeats works.
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