Yeats, William Butler ( 1865-1939), the greatest modern Anglo-Irish poet. Yeats's father was an artist and (chronically insolvent) landowner; his mother's family were Sligo merchants. He was brought up in London, Dublin, and Sligo. His first poems were published in the 1880s; thereafter he drew extensively on Gaelic literature and Sligo folklore. Yeats became active in advanced nationalist politics after the *Parnell split and tried to mobilize nationalist literary groups as the basis for a national artistic revival. This culminated in the foundation of the Irish Literary Theatre (subsequently the *Abbey). He quarrelled with clericalists, and subsequently with nationalists, over the moral and political role of theatre, and was criticized for accepting a crown pension in 1910. He served in the *Irish Free State *Senate 1922-8.
Yeats is the source of much historical controversy, due to his habit of assimilating Irish events into his personal mythology and the tendency of some admirers to adopt his perspective uncritically. (His images of the Parnell split, the relationship between the Irish *literary revival and the *rising of 1916, and the nature of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy have attracted particular attention.) Some commentators praise him as a defender of liberty, emphasizing his insistence on artistic self- determination, resistance to *censorship, and opposition to Catholic church influence over the Irish Free State; others emphasize the elitism displayed in his occult activities, his later cult of the aristocracy, and the frequently expressed admiration for fascism which led him to support the *Blueshirts in the 1930s. Yeats is perhaps best seen as part of a tradition of 'patriotic Tory' Irish Protestant intellectuals, including Isaac *Butt and Standish *O'Grady, who presented themselves as defenders of Irish agrarian and spiritual values against English *Whig materialism and Roman clerical legalism. PM
Yellow Ford, battle of ( 14 Aug. 1598), the greatest single defeat suffered by English forces in 16th-century Ireland. The queen's army under Henry Bagenal, taking supplies to the beleaguered Blackwater Fort, was ambushed in difficult terrain north of Armagh by Hugh *O'Neill. Bagenal and 800 of his men were killed and the Blackwater and Armagh garrisons had to be abandoned. O'Neill gained unimpeded access to the midlands enabling in turn the overthrow of the *Munster plantation. HM
Yelverton's Act ( 1782) modified * Poynings's Law by providing that all bills passed by both houses of the Irish parliament should be forwarded to England, and that only such bills, having received the royal assent under the great seal of Great Britain, could become law. The cumbersome procedure of *heads of bills thus became redundant. Both *privy councils lost their power to initiate or amend legislation, and the Irish council its power of suppression, though the English council could still refuse the royal assent. Introduced by Barry Yelverton ( 1736-1805), a leading *patriot, on 18 December 1781, the measure was not opposed by the executive; however Henry *Flood, anticipating his stand on the *Renunciation Act, attacked it as inadequate. Yelverton, later Lord Avonmore, became attorney-general ( 1782) and chief baron of the Irish exchequer ( 1783), and supported the Act of *Union.
yeomanry, originally a part-time local force raised in 1796 to combat the threat posed by the *revolutionary war and the * United Irish and *Defender movements. By 1797 30,000 men had been enrolled. Although some Catholics were recruited, particularly in the south, the most enthusiastic recruitment was among Protestants, often in close association with the recently formed *Orange Order, and the force quickly attracted a reputation for indiscipline and indiscriminate sectarian violence. After 1800 increased reliance on the yeomanry for the defence and security duties formerly discharged by the *militia meant that
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Publication information: Book title: The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Contributors: S. J. Connolly - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 601.