William Butler Yeats

Yeats background epitomised the complicated nature of Irish and Imperial identity. He was the descendent of a Williamite soldier and was identified with the Protestant Ascendency. Yet, he grew up in an era of rising Irish nationalist identities and switched his loyalties towards these aspirations. He was an early supporter of the IRA but was not so enamoured with the more militant and violent tactics of the nationalist movement. He initially distanced himself from the Easter Rising but was equally outraged at the British reaction to it. He went on to serve as a senator in the Irish Free State and won the Nobel Peace Prize which he dedicated to the new nation. As a senator, he frequently collided with Catholic bishops and the influence of the Catholic Church on Irish politics. He went on to warn the Free State that excessive Catholic meddling in the political sphere would scare off the Northern Irish for good.

Ireland | Significant Individuals


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |

by Stephen Luscombe