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The Yeats connection

Interior of Thoor Ballylee, 1926. Photographer Tomás Ó h-Eidhin (Thomas Hynes) (1868–1943). Courtesy Colin Smythe

The three-legged chair has both a modern and medieval feel. 

The renowned Irish poet, W.B. Yeats, his wife George and the architect W.A. Scott (1871-1921) commissioned the making of Sligo / Tuam chairs for the renovation of Yeats’ 14th century home at Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway, in 1919.  

Yeats purchased Thoor Ballylee in 1916, a year before his marriage. The talented George Yeats was heavily involved in the decoration and furnishing of Thoor Ballylee.  W.A. Scott was appointed Chair of Architecture at University College, Dublin in 1911 and was deeply influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. This Movement sought to promote beautifully made, yet simply designed, furniture. 

We might imagine the poet Yeats sitting on a three-legged chair as he wrote poetry. Some of Yeats' best-known volumes of poetry – The Tower and The Winding Stair – were written in Thoor Ballylee between 1919 and 1929.

The photographer Tomás Ó h-Eidhin (1868-1943), from Kinvara, Co. Galway photographed the interior of Yeats’ home in 1926. One of Ó h-Eidhin's views includes a three-legged chair. Biographies of Ó h-Eidhin are found in the Trácht magazine archive of Kinvara Community Council.  

Ó h-Eidhin’s photographs were important sources of information when Thoor Ballylee was once again renovated in the 1960s. New Sligo / Tuam chairs were commissioned for this second renonavation and can be seen there today.

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