Yeats died on the Cote d’Azur in January 1939, but it was almost a decade later before his body was brought back to Ireland for burial, mainly because of the second World War. His remains had to be recovered from an ossuary in the French cemetery as they had been removed from the original, temporary grave at Roquebrune. They were brought from Nice to Galway and buried in Drumcliffe in County Sligo.
A memorial (as pictured above) with his poem "Aehd Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven", a favorite of mine, reads:
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
His headstone reads:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
- WB Yeats (1865-1939)
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Almost everyone is Irish
Almost 37 million Americans have Irish ancestry, a number that dwarfs Ireland's current population of 4.5 million. The Emerald Isle's diaspora can be found in every country of the world and although huge numbers emigrated during the potato famine (when entire villages were abandoned), the truth is that the Irish have never hesitated to leave their island looking for opportunities elsewhere. So it's not surprising that tracing your roots to the old sod are a top tourist pursuit. Fortunately whether your name is Kennedy or Sullivan, O'Neil or O'Brien you'll find genealogy centers at museums and libraries nationwide.