WW1 poet Francis Ledwidge to be commemorated in Derry today

Left a military drill at the old Ebrington Barracks, where Francis Ledwidge wrote much of his poetry while stationed in Derry.
Left a military drill at the old Ebrington Barracks, where Francis Ledwidge wrote much of his poetry while stationed in Derry.

Renowned soldier and poet, Francis Ledwidge, is to be commemorated in Derry today with a Blue Plaqueerected in his honour at Ebrington Square.

The Blue Plaque to commemorate the ‘Poet of the Blackbird’ will be unveiled at 12.00 noon at Building 46 on the Ebrington site.

Ledwidge, who was born in Slane, County Meath in 1887, was once stationed at Ebrington Barracks in the city during his time served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1916.

It is believed he wrote many of his most famous pieces of poetry there

Ledwidge, who is best remembered for his lament for Thomas McDonagh, June and Behind the Closed Eye, had one book published during his lifetime - ‘Songs of the Fields’.

His patron and friend, Lord Dunsany arranged that further collections of Ledwidge’s work be published after his death in 1917 in Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele, including a book titled ‘Songs of Peace’ and ‘Last Songs’.

Mayor of Derry & Strabane Maolíosa McHugh said: “It is very important we remember and commemorate those in our community who have made a positive contribution to our lives.

“ Last month we celebrated archaeologist, Mabel Colhoun, with a Blue Plaque now stationed at the Tower Museum and this month we celebrate Irish war poet, Francis Ledwidge, whose work is highly respected and admired around the world.

“I would like to commend the Ulster History Circle for their work in ensuring the history and heritage of the city is recognised and that individuals like Francis Ledwidge are rightly recognised.

“Everyone is welcome to attend the unveiling and I encourage everyone to come along and learn more about this remarkable man.”

Writers and famed poets recognise Ledwidge’s contribution to the art of writing and history, with the late, great, Seamus Heaney commenting,

“Ledwidge very deliberately chose not to bury his head in local sand and, as a consequence, faced the choices and moral challenges of his times with solitude, honesty and rare courage. ”

Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle meanwhile said: “Francis Ledwidge was both a published poet and a seasoned soldier when he arrived at Ebrington in 1916. Throughout his life and in his work, he displayed integrity towards all that he undertook, and he continues to be an inspiration to our age, and into the future.

“One hundred years after his death in 1917, we are delighted to unveil this plaque at Ebrington, and the Circle would like to thank the council for its financial support towards the plaque, and the Tower Museum, the Nerve Centre and the Executive Office-NI for their assistance.”

Several more Blue Plaques are planned locally, dedicated to: Annie Russell Maunder (1868 - 1947), an Irish astronomer and mathematician; Mrs E.H. O’Doherty, founder of Féis Dhoíre Cholmcílle; Brigadier General Ambrose Ricardo (1866 - 1923) and Dorothy Parke (1904 - 1990), a teacher and composer.