top of page


SKY ARTS, 2024

This special documentary tells the incredible story of two remarkable women, Susan (Lily) and Elizabeth (Lolly) Yeats who were the backbone of the Irish cultural and literary revival of the 1920s. Imelda May sets out to explore their humble legacy in this brand new one-hour documentary, produced by an all-female team and directed by RTS-award winning Maggie Breathnach.

Over the span of four decades, these sisters were responsible for the publishing of over 70 beautiful titles including works by many of the period’s leading Irish authors – W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge and Lady Gregory. Alongside a friend of theirs, Evelyn Gleeson, the sisters set up the first and only craft guild of its kind, the Dun Emer Guild, which employed only women. The ethos behind the group was to ‘find work for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things’ and to promote women’s economic and cultural independence. Despite this gargantuan contribution to Irish culture, if not for their famous surname, would Lily and Lolly Yeats have been airbrushed out of history entirely? The film touches on their complicated relationships with their brothers (and each other) and explores their resilience in the face of lifelong illness, financial struggles and working as creatives.

Throughout the documentary, Imelda’s journey of discovery and learning takes her to Trinity College Dublin, the National Print Museum, and the sisters’ burial place at St. Nahi’s cemetery. With contributions from experts Lucy Collins (Associate Professor at University College Dublin), Dr Angela Griffith (Associate Professor & art historian at Trinity College), and Mary Plunkett (Education Officer at the National Print Museum), Imelda helps to bring the sisters out of the shadow of their famous brothers Jack and William Butler Yeats.


Lily & Lolly: The Forgotten Yeats Sisters was produced in association with Sky Studios and Tourism Ireland. The documentary was commissioned for Sky Arts by Jack Oliver.


bottom of page