Francis Ledwidge was born in Slane on 19th August, 1887. He left school at fourteen and took up various labouring jobs, but poetry was his first love. At twenty-four, he finally received the acclaim his poetry so richly deserved. He sent his notebook of poems to Lord Dunsany who became his mentor. He had his first volume of fifty poems entitled "Songs of the Field" published in 1915.

He fell in love with a local girl Ellie Vaughey but she rejected him for another. His rejection in love, his patriotic nature and his innocence, probably all combined with the poet's spontaneous nature, convinced him to enlist in the Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers. Only he can have known for sure. What is certain however, is that the poet became a soldier and experienced the horrors of World War 1.

He wrote two hundred odd poems and only nine mentioned the war in any degree. Of those most describe some isolated moment of beauty that had escaped the carnage of war. He fought in France and was killed at the battle of Ypres on 31st July, 1917. Although buried in Paschendale, his spirit is in Slane.

Francis the student.

Francis the poet.
Francis the soldier.

"Lament for Thomas Mc Donagh"


In the poem "Lament for Thomas McDonagh" Francis Ledwidge wrote about Thomas McDonagh who was a close friend to him and died in a war. This is a sad poem that shows how much Thomas McDonagh meant to Francis Ledwidge. The first verse is about him not being able to hear many things because he is dead. The second is much like the first, about what Thomas will miss in March. The last one is contradicting the first two, saying maybe he can hear and see all the things he knew when he was alive. Overall it's a very sad poem in which Francis Ledwidge shows his love for others.

Francis Ledwidge Cottage Museum.

"Lament for Thomas McDonagh"

He shall not hear the bittern cry

In the wild sky where he is lain

Nor voices of the sweeter birds

Above the wailing of the rain.


Nor shall he know when loud March blows

Thro' slanting snows her fanfare shrill

Blowing to flame the golden cup

Of many an upset daffodil.


And when the dark cow leaves the moor

And pastures poor with greedy weeds

Perhaps he'll hear her low at morn

Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.

By Francis Ledwidge

A collage about Francis Ledwidge.



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