An abbot and a singer walk into a library. Although it sounds like the beginning of a joke, it is a description of an event that took place at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin as part of Summer's Wreath 2010, the Library's annual June celebration of Yeats' birthday. On Tuesday, June 15, at 7:30 in the evening, Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman and Nóirín Ní Ríain hosted an evening titled: From Ballads to Byzantium. Hederman is Abbot of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, and Nóirín Ní Riain is “an internationally acclaimed spiritual singer, a theologian and musicologist.” The event was completely pre-booked and measures had to be taken to accommodate an overflow crowd. Using Yeats’ writings, the evening alternated between Nóirín Ní Ríain’s singing and readings from Abbot Hederman The abbot told the Irish Independent newspaper:
People don't take his [Yeats] spiritual side seriously, because he wasn't interested in normal churches. Yeats was interested in things like the tarot cards, Madame Blavatsky and the Golden Dawn, in which he found his own esoteric way. Irish people thought he was a great poet, but they tended to laugh at him, thinking that he was a foolish person.
When a Roman Catholic abbot acknowledges Mme. Blavatsky an avenue of spirituality we are living in a totally new era. The review of the event from the Irish Independent can be read here.