Coole Park

The wind was up all week, the tail end of a hurricane blown across the Atlantic.
We had blown in ourselves on a whim to drive part of the Wild Atlantic Highway, seduced by the romance of the name and stopped at Yeats’ Tower and then Coole Park, an unexpected find as we made our way back through Galway to the airport.

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It was closed of course, the little cottage and the tower restored by Yeats himself for his wife. Was it this river he wandered and worried for Ireland and his daughter?

A Prayer for My Daughter

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
A gardener , ruddy faced, rake in hand looked up, surprised, as we passed, not saying anything. The path was thick with wet sycamore leaves themselves covered with large black blight. He waved the rake at them as if by scaring them they would take themselves off. Perhaps it was us he wished to frighten off after all for disturbing the peace of his dank afternoon.
On to Coole Park and time enough before the plane  for the walled garden at least. Bronze leaves settled on the few cars in the car park. A man changed his shoes for some serious walking.

‘How’s it going?’ He asked us.
Well, it was good.

The house itself has gone but the walled garden remains, a peaceful place between grey walls  and the age and beauty of  trees.  I wondered if it was symmetry and the elegance of  straight lines that gave the place its atmosphere but decided that indeed the garden had its own aura.  Possible to imagine Yeats nursed back to health here and inspired by beauty and grace of a patron.  Possible to imagine the bygone era and the  literary greats flown like swans.

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Solitude. This is what you need, the tool collector said
Imagine walking in those footsteps, carving initials in Lady Gregory’s autograph tree, never going out in the lanes, like Synge, but spending all the time in the woods or within the walls of the garden, protected from all sides bordered, secluded writing and thinking.

I would be as the leaf collector – happy to wander, rake in hand, not doing much but soaking it all up.

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4 thoughts on “Coole Park

  1. You have brought back many memories… of the poems and the lectures on Yeats delivered by Professor A. N. Jeffares (Jim called him ‘Eh, Norm’) and the wonderful trip we had around Eire, visiting the places related to Yeats and George Moore. I particularly remember Drumcliffe Churchyard in Sligo and Yeats’ grave: ‘Cast a cold eye On life, on death, Horseman, pass by’. We hired a beat up brown mini from a scrapyard in Arklow (‘Sure, the doors don’t lock, but yous’ll have no problem.’), having turned down an offer by a man in Wicklow to take us wherever we wanted to go. We’d got on a bus from Dublin, because it was impossible to find a car to hire as the Dublin Horse Show was on, and travelled ohsoslowly along minor lanes with crates of ducklings and stops for the driver to pass the time of day with people he knew. Ah, the memories. ‘What’s water but the generated soul?’

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