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  • Francis Ledwidge

    Francis Ledwidge
    Born August 19, 1887 Died July 31, 1917


    (from: http://guilds.outpost10f.com/~poetry.../ledwidge.html)

    The Irish poet Francis Ledwidge was born 19 August 1887, at a time when Britain governed Ireland. He was the son of Patrick Ledwidge and Anne Lynch, labourers, and was their eighth child. They lived in a small cottage in Janeville, Slane, and after Patrick suddenly died, Francis had to help his mother labour in the fields of local farmers.

    When he became older he apprenticed in grocery shops in Drogheda and then Dublin. He left Dublin soon after he arrived, walking 30 miles back to his home in Slane, and started writing his "first poem" the very night he left. He then worked as a road builder and miner.

    Francis Ledwidge actually first wrote verse on a school slate, and after that he wrote anywhere and everywhere that he could. A piece of stone he wrote on with the charred end of a stick is still in existencein a museum dedicated to him at his cottage home. Eventually, a fellowworker sent one of his poems to a local paper, and it was accepted.

    After one of his poems was published in The Drogheda Independence, he contributed regularly to the paper. His contributions were accepted and published in several local papers, and he received local praise. Encouraged by this, he sent a notebook of his poems to the famous Lord Dunsany, who liked them and introduced Francis Ledwidge into Dublin's literary world, becoming his mentor and close friend.

    Ledwidge fell in love with the daughter of a landowner who owned half the Hill of Slane, Ellie Vaughey, who he took walks with. As he was not accepted by her family, she had to refuse his affections. Some time later, news reached Ledwidge that Ellie had died, and he began writing elegies, which he dedicated to her.

    Francis Ledwidge was also an Irish Nationalist and a soldier for the British Army. He and his brother were two of the founders of the SlaneCorps of Irish Volunteers. When WWI was declared, home rule for Ireland fell by the wayside. Even though Ledwidge was a Nationalist, he voluteered for the British Army, enlisting at Richmond barracks in Dublin, saying,

    "Some of the people who know me least imagine that I joined the army because I knew men were struggling for higher ideals and great emprises, and I could not sit idle to watch them make for me a more beautiful world. They are mistaken. I joined the British Army because she stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilization and I would not have her say that she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions."

    Ledwidge wrote his poem, "The Heights of Crocknaharna" on his voyage from Ireland to the Dardanelles on board the S.S. Novian. Only 76 of 250 men in his company made it through a tragic operation at Suvla Bay,Gallipoli, Turkey, one of the bloodiest defeats of WWI.

    While in the war, Ledwidge's first book, Songs of the Fields, was published. After collapsing from exhaustion and back pain, he was sent to a number of hospitals, and eventually a doctor found a copy of his book and had him transferred to England. While in the hospital in England, Ledwidge learned of the insurrection in Dublin, and the execution of the rebellion's leaders--including poet Thomas McDonagh and some of Ledwidge's other friends--which occurred in the same barracks where he had been trained. Francis Ledwidge wore the same uniform of the executioners. Lamenting, he wrote his poem, "Thomas McDonagh."

    On 31 July 1917, while Ledwidge and his comrades were repairing roads and building new tracks for supplies at Le Carretour des Roses, a bomb shell exploded. He was killed instantly. He was buried 100 yards awayin Artillery Wood Cemetery. In the place where he died there is a monument of yellow brick dedicated to him, and on it are the first two lines of his poem "Thomas McDonagh," and his poem "Soliloquy" in English and Dutch translation. This site is now part of the "Peace Route," a 45 kilometer bike tour that is mainly dedicated to WWI and its memorials.

    Three months after Francis Ledwidge's death, a second book of his poems was published, in which most of the poems were autobiographical. Lord Dunsany continued to collect his fallen apprentice and friend's poems, and 33 more were published in a new book, Last Songs. Most of the verses dealt with the beauty of his homeland in Ireland. A year after the third book, Francis Ledwidge's Complete Poems were published. However, his complete works will never be known. Many were lost in retreat in Serbia, and those that were saved were rainsoaked and ruined.

    Ledwidge's boyhood home is in the Boyne Valley, in Slane, north of Dublin. It is now the "Ledwidge Cottage Museum," and its four small rooms are furnished as they would have been when he lived there. In recent years, Peace Concerts Passendale commemorated F.E. Ledwidge with a CD, "Songs of Peace," named after his second volume of poems, and remembering them in song, in an effort to promote tolerance and peace.





    CWGC Entry

    Name: LEDWIDGE, FRANCIS EDWARD
    Initials: F E
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Lance Corporal
    Regiment: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
    Unit Text: 1st Bn.
    Age: 29
    Date of Death: 31/07/1917
    Service No: 16138
    Additional information: Son of Patrick and Anne Ledwidge, of Slane, Co. Meath. A noted Poet, the majority of his poetry was about Ireland and the fairies.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: II. B. 5.
    Cemetery: ARTILLERY WOOD CEMETERY
    .
    .
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    With 50,000 men getting killed a week, who's going to miss a pigeon?

    Guns don't kill people, bullets kill people.

  • #2
    I didn't know they'd erected a memorial to Francis Ledwidge until I visited his grave last year. One of the lads said "Why is there an Irish flag flying down there" and off we went to investigate.

    Another notable Nationalist was Tom Kettle, Lieutenant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was killed in action at Guillemont in Sept 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

    One of the men summarily executed in Richmond Barracks was his brother in law Francis Sheehy Skeffington who as a committed pacifist had nothing at all to do with the rising.
    sigpic
    Say NO to violence against Women

    Originally posted by hedgehog
    My favourite moment was when the
    Originally posted by hedgehog
    red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

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    • #3
      I thought that Skeffington was murdered by a BA Captain (Coldhurst?) while trying to prevent looting?

      Also, you sure he was married to Kettle's sister? Not only was a pacifist, he was a feminist and took his wifes name when he married her (Sheehy, can't remember her first name). This alienated his father. Sheehy != Kettle
      Meh.

      Comment


      • #4
        They were married to sisters. Skeffingtons wife was Hanna Sheehy. Kettle's wife was Mary. They were the daughters of Nationalist MP David Sheehy.


        Skeffington was arrested in the evening of April 25th 1916. About 10.30 pm he was taken as a hostage on patrol by a Capt Bowen-Colthurst, of the 3rd Bn Royal Irish Rifles on a patrol. During this patrol Bowen-Colthurst shot dead a young man in Rathmines and had arrested two more men named McIntyre and Dickson. The three prisoners were placed in the guard room of Portobello barracks. At 10am on the morning of the 26th, Bowen-Colthurst took the three out the back of the guard room with a firing squad and executed them. They were buried on the square. Skeffington's body was exhumed on May 8th and buried in Glasnevin.

        Bowen-Colthurst was eventually court-martialled and found guilty but insane due to shell shock and served 20 months in Broadmoor.- which did not justify going AWOL at the front. He died in old age in Canada in 1965.

        Tom Kettle died at Ginchy, not Guillemont.

        All the above courtesy of An Cosantoir April 1991.
        Last edited by Groundhog; 11 November 2003, 23:37.
        sigpic
        Say NO to violence against Women

        Originally posted by hedgehog
        My favourite moment was when the
        Originally posted by hedgehog
        red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

        Comment


        • #5
          An Cosantoir

          Where would we be without it?
          Meh.

          Comment


          • #6
            Is it my overactive imagination or did I read somewhere that Conor Cruise O'Brien is related to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Possibly from a second marriage?
            sigpic
            Say NO to violence against Women

            Originally posted by hedgehog
            My favourite moment was when the
            Originally posted by hedgehog
            red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

            Comment


            • #7
              Other famous nationalists who fought in the Great War.

              Emmet Dalton. With Collins at Beal na Blath, won the MC at Ginchy with RDF.

              Major Willy Redmond, Royal Irish Regt, MP for Wexford and brother of John Redmond. Died of wounds after the assault on Witjschaete, June 1917. Buried near Loker Hospice Cemetery, Belgium.

              Tom Barry, Sgt in Royal Artillery. Fought in Mesopotamia.
              sigpic
              Say NO to violence against Women

              Originally posted by hedgehog
              My favourite moment was when the
              Originally posted by hedgehog
              red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

              Comment


              • #8
                Do I remember rightly that some of Collin's "Twelve Apostles" also served in WW1?
                .
                .
                .
                With 50,000 men getting killed a week, who's going to miss a pigeon?

                Guns don't kill people, bullets kill people.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is it my overactive imagination or did I read somewhere that Conor Cruise O'Brien is related to Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Possibly from a second marriage?

                  I hit the upright. The Cruiser is the child of Francis Cruise O'Brien and Kathleen Sheehy, making him the nephew of Mary Kettle and of Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington. Tom Kettle and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington died before he was born (2/11/1917).
                  sigpic
                  Say NO to violence against Women

                  Originally posted by hedgehog
                  My favourite moment was when the
                  Originally posted by hedgehog
                  red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

                  Comment

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