Ireland's soldier poet celebrated
27 July 2017: An Post, has issued a stamp commemorating the centenary of the death of soldier, poet Francis Ledwidge, often referred to as ‘The Poet of the Blackbird’.
Designed by Detail, a Dublin design firm, the stamp features a portrait of the Irish poet and incorporates a photograph of a blackbird by nature photographer Lewis Bates. The stamp (€1) along with a special First Day Cover (FDC) is available at leading post offices, the stamp counters at Dublin’s GPO or may be viewed and purchased online at irishstamps.ie
Ledwidge was born in Slane, County Meath in 1887. He began his working life as a young road labourer and in 1912 won the patronage of Lord Dunsany after sending him copybooks filled with his poetry. Dunsany championed his cause in Irish literary society even introducing him to WB Yeats.
At the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, Ledwidge enlisted in the 5 th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, part of the 10 th Irish Division, and was killed at the third battle of Ypres in July 1917, just seventeen days before his thirtieth birthday.
Ledwidge had continued writing poetry throughout his time in the army and his first volume of poetry was published in 1915. A second volume ‘Songs of Peace’ appeared just three months after his death. Ledwidge’s complete poems were published in 1919 and his reputation as a poet, and particularly as a leading war poet, has continued to grow.