The small, tree covered island of Innisfree (pronounced in-nish-free), (co-ordinates 54.2446 -8.3551) so famously immortalised by William Butler Yeats, lies at the south-eastern end of Lough Gill, and is a Must See for Yeats fans.
And whilst the island itself is nothing special to look at, and is inaccessable on foot, the island may be viewed from a small pier on the lakeside, or you can board a boat for a slightly closer view of the island from Parkes Castle.
Legend has it that one day in 1890, whilst William Butler Yeats was walking through Fleet Street in the West End of London when he saw through a shop window, a ball dancing on a jet of water and was suddenly overcome with nostalgia for the lakes of his Sligo home.
That was the chance inspiration for Yeat‘s most famous poem.
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
William Butler Yeats – 1892
To reach Innisfree from Sligo, take the N4 The Inner Relief Road dual-carriageway southwards, as far as the turn off for Carraroe, Oakfield and Dromahair turn left at the end of the off-ramp, then take the second exit off the roundabout and immediately turn left onto the R287 for Dromahair.
Stay on the same road for several miles and you will see brown road signs indicating the way to the Lake Isle of Innisfree. At a staggered crossroads, turn left following the signs down narrow road for another couple of miles down to the lakeside from where you can see the island just offshore.