APRIL 24th 2017

Today I went to meet Maria and Gavin in Maynooth University to discuss how we were going to divide up our 3-D project into 3 parts. I brought along a draft plan of Thoor Ballylee that I had made from the measurements I took in Gort, Co Galway on the 19th of April. The drawing itself is not drawn to scale, but does include the correct measurements in the metric system.

The problem with Thoor Ballylee is that when you are looking for photographs and information online, you cannot find images of every part of the complex.  In addition, when you look on Google Earth, the topographical view is poor and visibility is somewhat obscured by the trees and shrubs; so it is extremely difficult to get a good sense of perspective of Thoor Ballylee.  The roads are not linear and the infrastructure is old and imperfect; but that also adds character to this wonderful place.

Drawing of Thoor Ballylee by Justin Martin.
(Not in Scale)

My drawing is far from perfect, but it is the best I could manage considering  the problems that I have enumerated above.  I decided to draw it as a plan looking downwards and I colour coded it to make it easier to identify the different elements.  Gavin my project colleague chose to make the tower which is the square pink building, and if he has time he might make the river that runs around the tower.  I chose the main cottage which is light blue, and the extension at the back which is coloured in yellow.  In addition I will be making the surrounding garden and walls.  Maria is making the garage which is coloured orange and the road/bridge that cuts through the middle of the drawing.  Maria might also make anything else that is shown on the bottom of the screen.  These are preliminary tasks and may change, depending on how fast each of us completes our designated tasks.


APRIL 19th 2017

The next step for my colleagues and I in relation to our 3-D project on Thoor Ballylee/Yeats Tower was to gather data on textures. After a lot of online searching and discussions with our project supervisor we decided that the photos that we had were good, but lacked textural information.  Our group was divided on this issue, and discussions began about whether it might be a good idea to travel to Gort, Co. Galway and visit Thoor Ballylee in person.  Due to time constraints and assignment deadlines, there was a real fear that going there might be a waste of time.  In my opinion, travelling to Gort to visit the Tower was burdensome due to time/assignment issues, but on the other hand I felt it would be beneficial to our project in the long run.  So we eventually decided to take the journey to Gort.  I really wanted to get a sense of perspective whilst there, and visualise, touch and photograph the many textures such as slating, pebble-dash and limestone that were used in the Tower’s construction.  In addition, I wanted to use my own images in this blog post and our project presentation which would include my colleagues and I.

The trip to Gort was roughly 1:55 minutes long from Maynooth University.  So I met my project colleagues at 09:30 am to ensure an early start, and we set off on our fact-finding journey.

Google Maps

We arrived there at about 11:45 am after initially getting lost.  The photographs that I seen on Flickr and other online sites do not do the site at Thoor Ballylee justice!  One can certainly imagine how such a place could have inspired W.B. Yeats in his poetic writings.  Yeats’ muses radiate in the wonderful scenery that encircle the Tower.  The Tower itself is much bigger than I had envisaged,  and the additional buildings that are attached to the

Photograph by Justin Martin & Gavin MacCallister

the Tower cover a larger area than the photographs suggested.  So our decision to visit the Tower seems entirely justified.

We organised ourselves and began taking photographs and measurements of the bridge that leads up to the Tower and of the Tower itself and the cottages that are attached to it.  The weather was dull, but the rain held off, making our job easy and enjoyable.

Photograph by Gavin MacCallister.

The  only incident that hampered our progress was the many tourists that appeared there whilst we were trying to take photographs. What should have taken an hour, turned into two and a half hours, but it was still enjoyable, none the less.  When we finished taking all our photographs and measurements, we posed for personal photographs to use on our blogs and impending presentations. I feel that our trip to Thoor Ballylee was beneficial for many reasons, primarily for the information regarding our 3-D project, but also to get a real life sense of this amazing place.

Photograph by Justin Martin

The experience of being there and absorbing its aura is far removed from building a 3-D model of the Tower using solely photographs from the internet. This haunting place has left a long-lasting impression on me and I know that some day I will go back again!


MARCH 14th 2017

After   some  deliberations   with  my  project   colleagues  we decided that  the  best course of action to take in order to collect information regarding Thoor Ballylee/Yeats Tower  was to search the online catalogue of the Architectural Archives on Merrion Square, Dublin 2.    I did in-fact  find   a   number  of     useful    books,  paper   clippings

Source: Architectural Archives

and engravings for Yeats Tower and a lovely model sized replica table that sits in one of the rooms of the tower.  After discovering these items I called the Irish Architectural Archive to arrange an appointment for the 14th of March 2017.  Gavin, Maria and I met at a cafe beside Pearse Street train station and walked up to Architectural offices in Merrion Square for our 11:00 am appointment.  When we arrived there, we put our coats and bags in the lockers provided in the basement cloakroom and made our way to the reception.  I filled out my details on a registration form   and   received    my

Irish Architectural Reader’s card

reader’s card from the staff member. He then kindly brought out the materials I had requested by phone.  The staff member brought out a periodical called Thoughts on Thoor Ballylee by Joseph M. Hassett (1986); a pamphlet which had illustrations and pen and ink sketch plans of Thoor Ballylee by Liam Miller & Mary Hanley (1977) and a book called the W.B. Yeats’ Banqueting Table by Oliver Hennessy (1993).  In addition to the reading and illustrative material, the archive also had a replica scale model of a table that adorns one of the tower’s rooms.  We searched through all the material and photographed all the relevant illustrations that might help us with scale and texture of the tower.

Gavin suggested that we ask the staff member on duty about the possibility of the archive having architectural plans from a refurbishment of the Tower in 1963 by the architect Dermot O’Toole.

Photo taken by Gavin MacCallister.

This   was a long-shot, but we needed more information on the Tower, if we were to be successful in our project.  The staff member checked for us and to our astonishment, the archive did have the plans. We immediately set up our camera and unrolled the plans on the table.  We took turns taking the photos of all the refurbishment plans and uploaded the RAW images to our laptop to use at at a later date.  Then we rolled the plans back up and gathered all our reading material together and returned them to the staff member at the reception and left the archive.


FEBRUARY 16th 2017

Source: National Library of Ireland

After some preliminary meetings with my project colleagues, we decided to take a trip to the National Library of Ireland to conduct a fact finding exercise on Thoor Ballylee or Yeats Tower as it is better known.  Gavin, Maria and I met at a really nice coffee house called Java Republic at 10:30 am where we met Neale Rooney who is a departmental representative from Maynooth University. Neale  accompanied us to library in order to familiarise and help us find the material we were looking for.

At 11:00 am we arrived at the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street, Dublin 2, and proceeded to register and get our photographic identifications.

National Library of Ireland Photographic Identification

When we entered the library, we read all the rules and regulations in relation to handling and photographing the materials and signed a form that was required before our reading material was given to us. When the negatives came out to us, a problem arose with permission with some/all the material in relation to copyright.  At that point the staff member asked Neale to contact the legal agents for the Yeats estate for permission to photograph the negatives.   The negatives themselves were not really sufficient for making a 3-D model of the tower so we decided to go to the Yeats exhibition which was in another part of the building to see if we could find anything in there.

The exhibition was very good but again, it lacked anything that we could use in our projects, so we decided to move onto plan B which was the Architectural Archives in Merrion Square, Dublin 2.


3-D Modelling Proposal by Maria Zoumaki,  Gavin McAllister & Justin Martin.

Title: Thoor-Ballylee – The home of William Butler Yeats

Thoor Ballylee by Justin Martin

Case Study: The virtual construction of W.B. Yeats tower and its environs at Thoor-Ballylee Co. Galway.

Why a reconstruction:  It is agreed that the above reconstruction of Thoor-Ballylee be done in order to provide a better understanding of the entire site and its environs both inside and outside.

Firstly, it is the centenary of the Yeats family acquiring and residing at Thoor-Ballylee.

Secondly, the tower is regularly photographed from two different angles, so there are sections of the residence that are under-represented in terms of photography.  In addition, there is limited photographic documentation available from the inside of the tower; so we have decided to construct the 3-D model of Thoor-Ballylee using a photo-realistic representation of the building in order to capture the essence of the tower that inspired Yeats. While the monument has therefore been almost continually occupied for nearly five hundred years, we will concentrate on the last phase of that occupation which is how the tower looks today.

Reconstruction Context:  Museum Context

As a celebratory occasion to mark the one hundred year anniversary, the  case study in question  could be included in the forthcoming exhibition at the National Museum displaying a virtual tour of the tower. More specifically, the visitors would have the opportunity to  navigate themselves around the four rooms and floors of Yeats tower and the  landscape environment outside of the tower.

The National Library of Ireland could offer it’s audience a unique experience during the forth-coming exhibition by  allowing the visitors to become intimately acquainted with the tower exterior and it’s interior through a realistic viewpoint that will display the many textures and colours of the tower. Through additional multimedia means like Vue, Poser, Mudbox, the overall sense and aesthetic of the tower and its landscape [bridge, attached cottage, original features]  could be approached through visualisation, to give one a real sense of what the tower looked like during Yeats’ occupation

Available Data:

In order for the above modelling technique to be achieved, the data that is going to be utilised refers to drawings, photographic data-sets and correspondences relating to Thoor-Ballylee. Specifically, we are going to utilize Yeats’ collection form the National Library of Ireland from the below archive boxes:

  • MS 30,731: Materials relating to the restoration of tower at Thoor-Ballylee which includes photographs of the tower and as well Coole Park.
  • MS 30,860: Accounts and letters from architect Scott relating to Thoor-Ballylee and also sketches, plans etc. (32 pp., letters, 5 sketches/plans)
  • MS 30,881: Photostats of TS list of Thoor-Ballylee, furnishings etc (8 pp.)

in order to enrich our visualization both geometrical and with textural accuracy.


Hanley, Mary (Liam Miller ED.), Thoor Ballylee; home of William Butler Yeats. Edited by Liam Miller from a paper given by Mary Hanley to the Kiltartan Society in 1961. With a foreword by T.R. Henn.