Francis Ledwidge Irish Poet and Soldier

A tribute on Remembrance Day, 2014

Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

francis ledwidge war years

Irish Poet, Francis Ledwidge, was born in Slane, county Meath, into a family of little means, the eighth of nine children. His parents, Patrick and Anne Ledwidge, gave their children the best education they could afford. When Francis was five his father died, forcing his wife and children to work in order to survive. Francis left the local national school aged thirteen, but continued to educate himself. He worked at whatever he could find, a farm hand, road mender, and mining copper. As a miner he was sacked for organising a strike for better working conditions, three years before the 1913 general strike. He was a trade union activist from 1906 and was appointed secretary of the Slane branch of the Meath Labour Union (1913–14).

While working as a road labourer he won the patronage of Lord Dunsany after writing to him in 1912, enclosing copybooks of his early work. Dunsany was a well known a man of letters in the literary and dramatic circles of Dublin and London. His own start in publishing had been with a collection of poems and he promoted Ledwidge in Dublin, introducing him to W. B. Yeats, with whom he became acquainted.

Although a patriot and a nationalist, Ledwidge enlisted in the British army, in the hope that home rule would come about, due to the support of Irishmen in the war effort.

Francis Ledwidge died on 31 July 1917.  Having served in Gallipoli and Serbia, he was killed by a shell in the Battle of Passchendaele. He served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

British composer Michael Head put some of Ledwidge’s poetry to music, one of the more well known songs being, “The Ships of Arcady.”

It’s only fitting to include one of Francis Ledwidge’s poems that reflect his experience and emotions of his service in the First World War. It’s called A Soldier’s Grave and is set to music.

Source: Merhlin’s Videos

Music:  Anúna


About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
This entry was posted in Irish poets, Poets and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Francis Ledwidge Irish Poet and Soldier

  1. Interesting history and haunting music. ❤


  2. Haunting WORDS and music.


  3. Pingback: Francis Ledwidge Irish Poet and Soldier | The I...

  4. Thanks for posting this, Jean. He was one of my dad’s favourite poets. Dad always said we were related somehow—his mother’s family was from Dunboyne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Francis Ledwidge is sometimes refered to as ‘the poet of the blackbirds’ and he loved nature. It must have been terrible witnessing the horror of the trenches which is possibly why he wrote some very sweet and pleasant poetry at that time. Some find those particular poems a bit twee but I think he is immersing himself in the beauty of nature to escape from the ugliness of war. You should check out the genealogy to see if you have a connection with him. Seeing as you are a fine poet yourself, Jane, with a keen eye for nature, I wouldn’t be surprised.


      • My dad was a poet and his style was much more realistic and free verse. Nature and birds singing wasn’t really his cup of tea so if he made an exception for Ledwidge it must have been because he was convinced he was family. I’ll have to find the time to check out the connection.


  5. mysm2000 says:

    What a wonderful story and the the word and music are hauntingly beautiful. I’ve added it to my blog for Remembrance Day. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: biografía | Anglopoesia

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