A 16th Century Fortified Norman castle with a small cottage attached it was acquired by WB Yeats in 1917 for the sum of thirty five pounds. He set about restoring it and renamed it Thoor Ballylee. He lived here with his family from 1921 until 1929. Following his departure from Thoor Ballylee in 1929 the building fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until 1964 when the Kiltartan Society founded by the late Mary Hanley undertook a major restoration project partly funded by Bord Failte and the Yeats family. It was officially reopened by the poet Padraic Colum on Sunday 20th June 1965 on the centenary of WB Yeat’s birth. For many years Thoor Ballylee was a major tourist attraction in the South Galway area partly because of its proximity to Coole Park until the devastating floods of 1995 and again in 2009/2010 which forced Failte Ireland to close its doors to the public
The Lady Gregory Yeats Heritage Trail Group formed in 2010 to link the heritage sites between Gort and Loughrea connected with Lady Gregory and WBYeats included Thoor Ballylee as a major site on the trail. Discussions have taken place between the group and Failte Ireland late last year and since then Failte Ireland have carried out restoration work within the building. The Group hope to persuade Failte Ireland to reopen Thoor Ballylee as it is a very important part of the literary and heritage trail of South Galway
A plaque on the nearby wall commemorates W.B. Yeats’ sojourn at Thoor Ballylee.
I, the poet William Yeats
With old mill boards and sea green slates,
And smithy work from the Gort forge,
Restored this tower for my wife George;
And may these characters remain
When all is ruin once again.