A Journey to the Pastoral Past

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939

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 grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.



If you haven’t already heard the reason behind the name of Innisfree Hotels, it is because of this poem. Thirty years ago, when we were thinking of what to call the business, we read this poem together and were moved by the sense of refuge, of quiet, of a real feeling of home that it describes. That is what we wanted to provide at Innisfree Hotels. You may notice too, that our incredible internal Digital Marketing Agency, Bee Loud, gets its name from the poem, as does the Hive, our corporate social responsibility program. This poem is meaningful in so many ways to the heart and soul of Innisfree Hotels.

So, how could we go to Ireland and not visit the Lake of Innisfree itself!  For years, because of the way the poem was taught at school, I thought the island was a mythical, mystical (and very fictional) place.  I was shocked to learn a few years ago, that there is, in fact, an island in Lough (loch) Gill in County Sligo, deep in Yeats’ country called Innisfree.  We had stayed in Limerick on purpose, so we could, on our first day, drive south to the Ring of Kerry, and on our second day, we could drive north to Sligo.

We learned that the only way to actually get a look at the island was to go as passengers on the “Rose of Innisfree”, a well-sized boat that moors on the dock by Parkes’s Castle about 30 minutes from Sligo.  So we got up early for another “full Irish” breakfast, this time at the hotel, and drove the 3 hours plus in time for the 12:30 tour.  It was a day of moody weather, drizzle in some places, but radiant in others, and when we reached the castle the clouds were moving the light from full sun to sudden dark patches.  Perfect. The tour is run by George and his wife Tina, who were tickled that Innisfree was literally our name! They were very welcoming to all of us.

Captain George took us on a journey, not only around the lough, but through history and song, and provided the best recitations of poetry we could imagine.  Yeats is honored by many poetry lovers around the world, and we shared this experience with Israeli guests as well as Irish.  As we skimmed by this little island called Innisfree, we were both moved to tears and were thrilled to hear the recording of Yeats himself reading the poem.  Seeing the photo you might think that it’s not much of an island....but this small place is connected to a great man and deeply significant thoughts of rest and refuge.  We are so proud to have the big idea of Innisfree Hotels connected to this place, where small poems, small islands and big possibilities all fit together perfectly!

We wanted to go a step further and visit the poet’s grave, so drove to Drumcliff, not far away. We felt we honored his memory well, and then went into the tea shop for a bite to eat. Over tea and soup, we had a lovely conversation with the Scottish man at the next table.  This is the best of travel....moments of connection with people that happen in unexpected, often surprising ways.  If you’re reading this, James MacDonald, thank you for your time and wisdom. We enjoyed meeting you and wish you all the best!

It was a long drive back to Limerick, aided by a “wee nap” in the countryside on the way.  A quick dinner and we headed to bed, weary but full of gratitude for the roots of Innisfree Hotels, and now,  it’s fruit.  

Dear Innisfree family -- we love you.