In 1957 as part of a national tourism promotion drive (An Tostal), a small group of enthusiasts met in Sligo and decided to hold a Yeats Country Festival. The festival held on 11-15 May 1958 was a great success. The highlight was ‘Salute to Yeats’, directed by Jim McGarry, with Mrs. M. Watson, Jo Lappin and the Mullaney brothers reciting Yeats’s poetry.
Elated by that success, the group – Frank Wynne (Chairman), Nora Niland, Eileen Lambert (Hon Secretary), Sheelah Kirby, Tom McEvilly, Fr. Tom Moran and Jim McGarry(all deceased) met again on 20th May and established the Yeats Society, Sligo. Its purpose was to organize a Yeats Summer School, to which Tom Mullaney was appointed Hon. Secretary on 5th July 1959.
Dr. T.R.Henn of St. Catharine’s College Cambridge, a native of Sligo, was advisor of Sligo’s first Yeats International Summer School, held in late August 1960. He remained a guiding light for many years, and was Director from 1962 – 1968.
The School, of course, has since grown in strength and prestige and its story is told in most interesting detail in Jim McGarry’s ‘The Dream I Knew’,(1990). The warm reception given locally to visitors and the generous sponsorship by local business people also played an important part.