The Irish Life Dublin Marathon has shared a preview of its 2023 that uses a famous quote often attributed to WB Yeats, though there is no record of the Irish Nobel Prize winner ever saying or writing it.
"The #IrishLifeDublinMarathon Medal .. which plays tribute to William Butler Yeats on the 100th anniversary of Yeats receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature," organizers said on social media on September 8, unveiling an image of the medal.
"'There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't met, yet' is engraved on the front of the medal. This quote embodies the values of the Irish Life Dublin Marathon, known worldwide as 'the friendly marathon.'
"There is an incredible camaraderie amongst the runners who are supported by hundreds of thousands of supporters with posters of encouragement and loud cheering voices around the course.
"Often regarded as one of the best days of the year in Dublin city, it comes alive with positive support, energy, smiles and goodwill.
The spectators and volunteers make the Irish Life Dublin marathon a unique experience for runners from around Ireland and the world."
The @IrishLife Dublin Marathon Medal .. a tribute to W.B Yeats on his 100th anniversary of receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature.
His quote “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met," is engraved on the front & embodies the values of our Marathon 🥰 pic.twitter.com/oyu6GO3aKh— Irish Life Dublin Marathon (@dublinmarathon) September 8, 2023
On X, however, a few responders pointed out that the quote isn't from Yeats.
"That's not actually a Yeats quote," one person replied, while another said, "Nope, fairly sure Yeats didn't say this."
The quote’s origin was actually traced by Quote Investigator back in 2017 which found that “the attribution to William Butler Yeats is unsupported.”
Quote Investigator noted that a 1960s campaign from the Irish Tourist Office that used the quote, though didn’t attribute it to Yeats, “may have facilitated an error linking the expression to one of Ireland’s top writers.”
While some people have negatively responded to the misattributed Yeats quote, the Yeats Society Sligo is choosing to look on the bright side.
Susan O’Keeffe, the director of the Yeats Society Sligo in Co Sligo, told The Guardian that she and the Society believe the decision to feature the quote was made in "good faith" and that they are still "really delighted" to see Yeats featured.
“I understand exactly why the attribution was made," she said. “It’s been made by so many people before this, along with several other quotes.
"It’s a sign of Yeats’s global importance – only the great writers, songwriters, poets, philosophers are misquoted."
O'Keeffe added: “We must always remember that not every word he wrote, or indeed word he said, was recorded.
“And some records have, of course, been lost, during his lifetime or afterwards.
"But, as we are here in 2023, there is no evidence for what indeed is the perfect quote for a marathon where strangers do indeed make friends."
A spokesperson for the Dublin Marathon told the Irish Times that organizers "reached out to the Yeats Society over the weekend and discussed the medal with them.
“The Yeats Society are delighted with the sentiment of the medal playing tribute to Yeats.
“The Dublin Marathon organizers have noted that while this quote is widely attributed to Yeats, it has never definitively been proven to be his quote.
"Nevertheless, it is a quote which reflects the values of the Dublin Marathon, which is known worldwide as the ‘friendly marathon.’”
O'Keeffe further told The Sligo Champion: “If Yeats is looking down he might be smiling and saying ‘I wish I did say that’ because it’s such an appropriate quote for the occasion.'
"There is so much passion on the streets of Dublin during the marathon, people do become friends.
“There’s a lovely sentiment and Yeats is in the mix.”
The Irish Life Dublin Marathon will be held on October 29 and will have a capacity of 22,500 entries, down from 25,000 in 2022.