Yeats: The Life and Works of WB Yeats

We offer tours of the exhibition to post-primary school students. These tours normally last approximately 30 minutes and are limited to 15 students. Each group of students must be accompanied by at least one teacher/adult. We currently offer two customised tours specifically for Leaving Certificate students.

We request that all groups visiting the exhibition have some knowledge of Yeats’s work to ensure they get the full benefit of the visit. Staff will be happy to suggest appropriate pre-visit activities to teachers.

Guided tours must be arranged at least two weeks in advance with a member of the learning and outreach staff – please call (01) 603 0346 to book.

Leaving Certificate History

WB Yeats was both a commentator on and a key player in events in early twentieth century Ireland. Yeats: the life and works of William Butler Yeats provides a unique perspective not just on the poet and his works but on Ireland during his lifetime. This, coupled with the exhibition’s presentation of key literary and historical documents, makes it a valuable resource for teachers of Leaving Certificate history and their students. Set out below is a guide to the core areas of the history curriculum which are served by the Yeats exhibition.

Topics for Study

The exhibition presents the works of WB Yeats in the context of the poet’s life and time and, as such, offers students a unique point of access to several of the key personalities and concepts central to topics two and three of the Modern Ireland syllabus, Movements for Reform, and Sovereignty and Partition. Elements covered include the Gaelic League, the Anglo-Irish literary movement, the impact of the First World War, the 1916 Rising, Treaty and Civil War, the Irish Free State, the promotion of cultural identity.

Crucially the exhibition also gives students the opportunity to examine and engage with primary historical sources including draft manuscripts and typescripts and poems and plays, letters, newspaper reports and scripts. As well as the visceral thrill of seeing original manuscripts, the exhibition, through its ‘turning the pages’ installations, also allows students to explore core documents from the Library’s Yeats collection, something which has previously only been possible for graduate scholars and academics.

The exhibition is presented to classes by means of a guided tour. The tour has been specially devised with the history syllabus in mind; as well as introducing students to Yeats and other relevant personalities and concepts, it also encourages them to think about the process of enquiry behind the mounting of the exhibition.

Leaving Certificate English

The exhibition’s presentation of key texts makes it a valuable resource for teachers of Leaving Certificate English and their students. As well as the thrill of seeing original manuscripts, the exhibition, through its ‘turning the pages’ installations, also allows students to explore core documents from the Library’s Yeats collection, something which has previously only been possible for graduate scholars and academics. Other parts of the exhibition, such as the masterclass tutorial on 'Sailing to Byzantium', offer literary commentary on key poems as well as detailed analysis of their development. 

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