Stars align for Yeats performance in Derry

William Butler Yeats portrait by George Charles Beresford in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
William Butler Yeats portrait by George Charles Beresford in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Renowned Irish actors Mary McEvoy and Des Cave are to appear in a new production celebrating the work of Irish poet W.B. Yeats in Derry next week, writes Orlagh Mullan.

The show, entitled ‘Songs From The Swans At Coole’ will be staged next Thursday and Friday, January 28 and 29, in the Millennium Forum.

It has been commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the County Sligo poet.

Local audiences may remember Mary from her role as Biddy Byrne in RTE’s ‘Glenroe’.

Since leaving the hit pioneering Irish television show in 2000, Mary has gone on to enjoy a hugely successful stage career.

This performance will mark her third time to appear at the Forum, having performed previously in ‘The Matchmaker’ and ‘Shirley Valentine’ a few years ago.

Des Cave meanwhile has been a member of the Abbey Theatre Company for more than 40 years.

During that time he has played a range of roles in the company’s classic and modern repertoire.

Mary and Des will be joined by Irish tenors Sandra Oman and Anthony Norton who will sing selected poems in an operatic and classical style alongside a traditional Irish orchestra.

Poems in this song cycle include ‘Innisfree’, ‘When You Are Old’ and ‘Easter 1916’.

‘Songs From The Swans At Coole’ was written by Michael Scot. It celebrates one of the world’s most recognised and prolific 20th century poets.

William Butler Yeats was born on 13 June 1865 and died on 28 January 1939.

As well as becoming an Irish Senator in his later years, Yeats was a giant of the Irish Literary Revival.

Along with Lady Gregory among others, he founded the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

In 1923 he became the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some of his most famous poems, aside from those mentioned above, include ‘The Stolen Child’, ‘No Second Troy’, ‘To Ireland In the Coming Times’, ‘The Second Coming’, ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’. ‘Sixteen Dead Men’, ‘A Prayer For My Daughter’, ‘The Wild Swans Of Coole’ and ‘Sailing To Byzantium’.

The production performs at the Millennium Forum on Thursday 28th & Friday 29th January. Tickets are now available from the Box Office, telephone 02871264455 or visit for bookings.