Yeats first editions collection comes to UL

Ken Bergin, head, Special Collections and Professor Michael Gilsenan. Picture: Alan Place/Fusionshooters.
Ken Bergin, head, Special Collections and Professor Michael Gilsenan. Picture: Alan Place/Fusionshooters.

THE University of Limerick’s Glucksman Library has launched a collection of rare first edition books by William Butler Yeats.

The collection was donated to the library by Professor Michael Gilsenan with the aid of the American Ireland Fund.

The collection features copies of all of Yeats’ work such as ‘The Tower’, ‘The Winding Stair’, ‘Wind Among the Reeds’ and ‘Plays for an Irish Theatre’.

UL is now home to one of the finest Yeats collections in Ireland, which will change the study of Yeats at the university and in the region in general.

Director of the Yeats Summer School and the President of the International Yeats Society, Professor Margaret Harper said: “W. B. Yeats knew better than most that ‘Words alone are certain good’, and he knew also that those words live in material objects. He made sure his books were works of art in themselves.

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“Having Michael Gilsenan’s astonishing collection of first and rare editions of Yeats’s very beautiful books is a goldmine, putting UL firmly on the international map of places to go for Yeats scholarship. But this collection is first and foremost a tremendous resource for anyone who loves books and the words of Ireland’s great poet and playwright.”

Gobnait O’Riordan, director of the Library and Information Services at UL added: “The significant donation of a very fine and beautiful first and rare printed editions of William Butler Yeats along with the Cuala and Dun Emer Press publications to the University of Limerick by Professor Michael Gilsenan is an important milestone in building rare and archival collections at UL.

“We are deeply grateful to Professor Michael Gilsenan for the gift of a one of the finest Yeats collections to the Glucksman Library and also for his belief and trust in us.”

The launch was in conjunction with the inaugural conference of the International Yeats Society being held in UL.

From October 15 to 18, in time for the 150th anniversary of the birth of W. B. Yeats, UL hosted the first conference of the newly-formed International Yeats Society (IYS).

The IYS links the many Yeats societies around the world, making it possible from scholars from around the globe to share their research. For the first conference, some 50 scholars from nearly 20 countries came to Limerick for three days of intellectual exchange and arts events.