Cover of this title
Cathleen ni Houlihan
William Butler Yeats

This highly symbolical one-act play explores nationalism, patriotism, invasion, and sacrifice. The setting is a house in a small coastal town in 1798, Ireland. The Gillane family is preparing for the wedding of their son Peter when a mysterious old woman (Cathleen ni Houlihan) appears and foregrounds things of greater significance than a quiet married life: ‘four green fields’ representing Ireland’s four provinces have been stolen from her and she demands a blood sacrifice. When the news arrive that French soldiers have landed on the coast, Peter is ready to give his life for a revolution.

· · 1902

Critical edition

Yeats, William Butler. Cathleen ni Houlihan. Kessinger Publishing, 2005. 48 pp., ISBN 9781425471835

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In favour of this entry

  • Beyond the US and the UK
  • Charged with meaning
  • Classic
  • Explores historical contexts