Skip Navigation

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge

Centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge


On July 27, 2017 An Post issued a stamp to commemorate the Centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge.

Francis Edward Ledwidge was one of the most admired Irish war poets and was sometimes known as the Poet of the Blackbird. He wrote poetry while serving as a soldier in the British Army in World War I before he was killed at the third battle of Ypres on July 31, 1917 just seventeen days before his thirtieth birthday.

Ledwidge was born in Slane, Co. Meath in 1887, the eighth of nine children in a very poor family and when Francis was only five years old his father died prematurely and this forced his wife and their children out to work at an early age. 

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, a man of letters already well known in Dublin and London literary and dramatic circles, and whose own start in publishing had been with a few poems, promoted him in Dublin and introduced him to W.B. Yeats.

On the outbreak of World War I, Francis enlisted on October 24, 1914 in the 5th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, part of the 10th (Irish) Division. He wrote throughout his time in the army and his first volume of 50 poems, Songs of the Fields, was published in 1915. He died in 1917 and three months later his second volume of poems Songs of Peace appeared.

The commemorative stamp you see here was designed by Detail. Design Studio and features a portrait of Ledwidge but with a modern treatment which has inverted the colour scheme.