Sligo house that inspired Yeats goes under the hammer

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The Independent Online

One of Ireland's finest houses, steeped in history and associated with the poet W B Yeats, has just been put on the market after more than 150 years in the ownership of an Anglo-Irish family.

Lissadell House in the western county of Sligo is important architecturally and historically, reflecting the tragic, the poetic and the revolutionary aspects of Ireland's past.

Externally slightly forbidding, but internally magnificent, the Grecian Revival-style mansion and its 400 acres (160 hectares) of parkland are on offer for more than €3m (£2.1m).

There have been calls for the Irish government to step in and buy it as a national asset.

One writer said: "It would be a travesty to see it transformed into a theme park or hotel and golf course. The government should acknowledge the historical value."

The house is being sold by Sir Josslyn Gore-Booth, a member of a family that has lived in the area for about four centuries. The familywere regarded as enlightened landlords, particularly during the Irish famine.

Among Sir Josslyn's most notable ancestors were two rebellious and radical sisters, Constance and Eva Gore-Booth, who were described by Yeats, a frequent visitor, in his poem "Lissadell".

He wrote: "The light of evening, Lissadell/ Great windows open to the south/ Two girls in silk kimonos, both/ Beautiful, one a gazelle."

The gazelle, Eva, became a trade union activist and suffragette who defeated Winston Churchill in a by-election. The other, Constance, was described as "the acknowledged beauty of the county".

A fiery rebel, she swopped Lissadell for Paris and later wasa revolutionary among Dublin's poor. She served a series of prison sentences before taking part in the 1916 rebellion. For this she was sentenced to death. Her sentence was commuted, and she went on to become Minister for Labour. She was the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, but did not take her seat.

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