Coole estate was purchased in 1768 by Robert Gregory on his return to Ireland following
service with the East India Company. It remained with the Gregory family until 1927 when it was
sold to the state. Residing there at that time was Lady Augusta Gregory, already a legend in her lifetime
as a dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre with W.B. Yeats and Edward Martyn.
Lady Gregory's love of Coole and its 'Seven Woods', immortalised by Yeats, is manifested in her writings
and those of her literary guests.
"These woods have been well loved, well tended by some who came before me, and my affection has been no less
than theirs. The generations of trees have been my care, my comforters. Their companionship has often brought me peace."
Lady Gregory, Coole, 1931
She was one of the most important figures in the Irish Literary Revival of the early 20th century, not only because of her achievements as a playwright,
but also because of the way she transformed Coole into a focal point for those who shaped that movement,
making it a place they would return to time and time again to talk, to plan, to derive inspiration.
But the woods and lakes at Coole were richer than Yeats divined. The 'Seven Woods', which so enchanted
Lady Gregory and her guests, held whispers of a more ancient ancestry, of which the literary visitors were scarcely aware: remnants of the
earlier natural forest cover, and the disappearing lake and river are part of the finest turlough complex (See Nature & Wildlife) not
merely in Ireland but in all the world.
Lady Gregory died on 22nd May 1932. In one sense, the magic of Coole has been in abeyance since the demolition
of the house in 1941, a time when more immediate concerns occupied the minds of most people. Coole-Garyland is now a
statutory Nature Reserve managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service, whose aim is to preserve its rich natural and cultural heritage.