John B. Yeats

Artist and Writer

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Yeats, father of Willian B and Jack B. Yeats, was brought up at Tullylish in Co. Down, where his father was the “red headed” Rector. His early days were happy except for the horrors of a private school in the Isle of Man, where George Pollexfen was a school fellow. He entered Trinity College in 1857, reading Classics, and, afterwards, Law. When he married Susan Pollexfen at Sligo in 1863 the Pollexfens were pleased. Their hopes were dashed. Having been called to the Bar in 1866, J.B. decided not to practice, but to train to be an artist in London. He painted many portraits of leaders in the Irish Literary and Political life. In December 1907 he went to New York with his daughter Lily, and thereafter refused to return to Ireland. He died in New York in 1922 and is buried in the Chestertown Rural Cemetery near Lake George in upstate New York.

On the house (23 Fitzroy Road, NW1), where the family stayed in London between 1867 and 1873, is a Blue Plaque in honour of his illustrious son William Butler.

Location of plaque: Vicarage Farm, Tullylish, Co. Down

Date Unveiled: 4 June 2004

Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE.