Ledwidge, Francis

Francis Ledwidge
Francis Ledwidge. Image source Wikipedia

Francis Ledwidge was born at Janeville, Slane, Co Meath in 1887 to a large and impoverished family, who nevertheless valued education, even after his father’s death when he was five, and Ledwidge published his first poems in the Drogheda Independent, a local newspaper, when he was fourteen.

An active trade unionist, when he was twenty-four he sent his notebook of poems to Lord Dunsany who became his mentor.

His collections are Songs of the fields (with an introduction by Lord Dunsany. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1916/New York, Duffield, 1916); Songs of Peace (with an introduction by Lord Dunsany. London, Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 1917); The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge (Herbert Jenkins, 1919/New York, Brentano’s Publishers, 1919); Francis Ledwidge: Selected Poems (ed. Dermot Bolger, Introduction Seamus Heaney, Dublin, New Island Books, 1992); and The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge, Newly edited and with a Foreword by Alice Curtayne (Dublin, Poolbeg, 1998).

Books on Ledwidge’s life include Francis Ledwidge – A Life of the Poet, by Alice Curtayne, Introduced by Jennifer Johnston, (New Island Books, Dublin, November 1998); Francis Ledwidge: Poet Activist Soldier, by Liam O’Meara (Dublin, Riposte Books, 2006); and Legends of the Boyne, by Francis Ledwidge and Liam O’Meara (Riposte Books, 2006).

Walking the Road, a play on the life of Ledwidge by Dermot Bolger, was produced at the Tallaght, Civic Theatre, 2007.

Ledwidge joined the Enniskillen Fusileers, and fought in France in World War I. He was killed by a shell at the battle of Ypres on 31st July, 1917, and is buried at Paschendale.

Francis Ledwidge Centre
Francis Ledwidge at Wikipedia
Francis Ledwidge at The National Library of Ireland