THE IRISH DEAD POETS SOCIETY; New Guide Book to Graves of Top Writers

Sunday Mirror (London, England), January 16, 2005 | Go to article overview

THE IRISH DEAD POETS SOCIETY; New Guide Book to Graves of Top Writers


Byline: DONNA CARTON

GRAVES of Irish writers have been charted in an unusual new guide book. Directions to, and photographs of, the burial places of the famous and less-well remembered scribes are contained in the strange publication, entitled The End. Historian Ray Bateson spent six years combing graveyards and cemeteries in a bid to record the final resting places of Irish literary figures. Yeats, Wilde, Shaw, Joyce, Beckett and O'Casey share the pages with lesser-known writers, such as Amanda McKittrick Ross. Bateson's guidebook details the cemeteries, where the graves are and has photographs of headstones and inscriptions. There are more than 500 photographs, six maps and precise directions to the graves of more than 400 writers. Bateson, who was born in Belfast and now works in Dublin, has been to burial places across Ireland and Europe in his quest. In Ireland, from Derry to Cork, he criss-crossed the country finding writers from northand south. Many graves were overgrown, neglected places but with hard work and a lot of determination he always found who he was searching for. He said: "It wasn't glamorous - fighting the wind and rain, betrayed by locked churches, missing records, closed cemeteries, covered graves, my camera raging against the dying light on winter afternoons or, worse still, cursing the strong sun behind grave stones. "Apart from being a conventional guidebook, I hope this will be seen as my own personal tribute to the writers. "As far as I am concerned this was a journey of respect." The inscriptions on, and conditions of, the grave stones are varied. WB Yeats' grave, in Drumcliffe, Co Sligo, bears the now famous lines "Cast a cold eye, On Life on Death, Horseman pass by." His original grave was on the second terrace of the cemetery. It had a small stone which simply read WB yeats 1865-1939. Bateson says there is still a little doubt over whether Yeats' remains are actually in thegrave. Although the family said they have been satisfied he lies there, there has been speculation it could be the remains of Englishman Alfred Hollis or the bones of numerous Frenchmen. …

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