Row over Yeats Nobel medal move to Dublin

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The transfer of WB Yeat’s Nobel Prize Medal from Sligo county museum to the National Library in Dublin led to a row at a Sligo Municipal District meeting on Monday.

MEDAL: The Nobel medal presented to WB Yeats in 1923.
MEDAL: The Nobel medal presented to WB Yeats in 1923.

Councillor Declan Bree had down a motion that all correspondence, documentation, copies of minutes etc relating to the transfer of the Yeats Nobel Prize Medal be made available for inspection by councillors.

The Independent councillor had previously raised the issue at last week’s meeting of Sligo County Council when he asked Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes why this occurred and what action the Council executive took in the matter?

Cllr Bree said he was “taken aback and deeply disappointed” when he read in the national press that the Nobel Prize medal and citation which had been on public display in Sligo for decades had been transferred from Sligo and donated to the National Library in Dublin by the Yeats family.

The medal and citation were presented to Yeats in 1923 when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Cllr Bree pointed out that in the 1950’s when the late Nora Niland began to acquire and collect material relating to WB Yeats on behalf of the Council, Yeats’ son Michael presented his father’s Nobel Prize Medal on indefinite loan to Sligo.

At Monday’s meeting Cllr Bree claimed that “despite the enormous importance of the medal to Sligo it appears to me that the Executive made little effort to have the medal retained here”.

The Chief Executive said that he was conscious that this was “a family matter” for the Yeats family and he would have to get their permission to release private correspondence with them. He said he had written to them when he got the notice of motion but had not got a response from them yet.

More from the this story can be found in this week’s Sligo Weekender- in shops now.

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