A day away from my permaculture smallholding, to visit the beach of Streedagh, in Sligo.
On the journey to the ocean, I stopped off at Drumcliffe to visit the grave of William Butler Yeats.
Yeats lies in the little churchyard beside the church where his grandfather was once a clergyman.
This was once an early Christian site of
major significance. It founded by St. Colmcille in A.D. 575 – the round tower and high cross, as you can see above, still remain.
Saint Colmcille is remembered for his part in the ‘ Battle of the Books’.
Colmcille copied a book while a guest
of St. Finian’s. Finian claimed the copy as well as the book, but Colmcille refused.
Here you can see the beach of Streedagh and the mountain of Ben Bulben in the background.
Yeats lies in the churchyard at the foot of this great mountain.
Anyway, on with the story…The dispute was brought
to the High King of Ireland whose edict was: ‘To every cow its calf and to every book its copy’. In consequence, in 561 AD, the High King and Colmcille engaged in battle on the slopes of Benbulben.
Aided by an angel, Colmcille won.
Thousands of men were slain and the King forced to concede the copy of the
psalter to Colmcille.
Stricken by remorse after the Battle of the Books, Colmcille confessed and
was banished to Iona, Scotland, in 563 AD. His penance was to convert more people to Christ than had
fallen at Culdreimhne. Here is the poem by Yeats, “Under Ben Bulben.”