Ledwidge Centenary 2017
Francis Ledwidge (1887 – 1917)
Born on 19th August, 1887 at Slane, County Meath, his family were in humble circumstances, a condition not improved by the death of the father when Francis was only four years old. He left school shortly before his fourteenth birthday and his first employment was as a farm labourer. He subsequently worked as shop assistant, house-boy, miner and also for two separate periods as road worker and ganger with Meath County Council. From his schooldays he took an interest in books and literature and when he grew to manhood he became active in trade union and other public affairs.
By 1914 he had become a member of Navan Rural District Council and of Navan Board of Guardians. He was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers in Slane and despite his subsequent enlistment in the British army his contributions to discussions of the two Public Bodies of which he was a member suggest that as late as 19th October, 1914 he was opposed to joining in the British war effort. However he enlisted in The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Richmond Barracks, Dublin, on 24th October, 1914. This decision ultimately lead to his death in Belgium on 31st July, 1917.
His early poems were published in the Drogheda Independent and in 1912 he sent some of his verses to Lord Dunsany who later helped and encouraged him greatly. “Songs of the Fields” published in 1914, “Songs of Peace” published in 1916 and “Last Songs” published in 1917 all have introductions by Lord Dunsany. The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge was published in one volume in 1919, the 3rd edition of which appeared in 1955. The house where he lived at Janeville, Slane has been preserved as a museum to his memory and is open to the public in the tourist season.
Francis Ledwidge Centenary 1917 -2017 Commemorative Grant Scheme
Meath County Council, as part of its Commemorative Strategy to mark the Decade of Commemorations 2013 – 2023, wants to develop an inclusive programme for the County of Meath to commemorate the centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge.
Community funding is now available to support local groups who want to organise inclusive, sensitive and appropriate community initiatives to commemorate this important centenary.
A fund will be made available in the form of small scale grants to community groups and organisations in County Meath wishing to undertake local initiatives.