Francis Ledwidge Centenary
Fri Jun 23, 2017
We have recently had the pleasure of printing ‘A Little Book of Ledwidge’ – A Selection of the Poems and Letters of Francis Ledwidge. The book was compiled by John Quinn and published by Veritas Publications. I was curious about Francis Ledwidge and discovered that this year is the 100 Year anniversary of the poet’s death. He was known as ‘poet of the blackbird’ and ‘poet of the Boyne’. He was the eighth of nine children born to Patrick and Anne Ledwidge. Francis was born on the 19th August 1887 in the family's home, not far from the village of Slane.
His talent for writing became apparent when he was quite young when he started writing rhymes. He went to work as a trainee houseboy in Slane Castle, after finishing school. He also worked as a groom, farmhand, roadworker and miner in the Slane area whilst continuing to pursue his poetry writing. The Drogheda Independent, a local newspaper, published many of his poems.
A local aristocrat, Lord Dunsany was so impressed by the literary talent of Francis that he became his patron. Lord Dunsany encouraged Francis, told him to follow his own inspiration and helped him to get his poems published in the Saturday Review (a literary magazine).
He served as a soldier in the British Army fighting in World War 1 and was killed at the third battle of Ypres on the 31 July 1917, days before his thirtieth birthday. His first volume of fifty poems, Songs of the Fields, was published in 1915. His second volume of poems, Songs of Peace appeared, three months after his death in 1917. Last Songs, came out in 1918 with thirty-three poems, with a volume of his Complete Poems coming out in 1919.
And I was wondering in my mind
how many would remember me…’
Francis Ledwidge, ‘On Dream Water’
Events to commemorate Francis Ledwidge, his life, his poetry and his death will take place in June and July this year including events organised by the Ledwidge Museum Committee, RTE Lyric radio, The Kells Type Trail and the National Museum of Ireland.
The Francis Ledwidge Museum was opened in the house where Francis was born in Slane Village to honour the poet and his work. The Ledwidge Museum Committee has organised a programme of events in Slane from Thursday 22 June to Sunday 2 July, the details of which are in the poster below.
Tune into RTE Lyric FM Radio on Friday 23rd June to listen to Claire Cunningham’s’ Documentary ‘WHEN THE WAR IS OVER’ which commemorates the life, poetry and death of Francis Ledwidge.
The annual Kells Type Trail Festival provides an opportunity to spend an afternoon of Letter Pressing with the Irish Print Museum in Kells Town Hall on 23rd June from 2pm. You will be able to print your own quote from a Ledwidge poem in Letterpress using a small table top printing press, a case of type and a composing stick.
The National Museum of Ireland are holding a talk on Francis Ledwidge on Sunday June 25th at 3pm.
Francis Ledwidge was a very talented Poet and a War hero whose memory and poetry is being commemorated by many in 2017, the centenary of his death.