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Sunday, 18th June 2017

Special Francis Ledwidge commemorative events in Slane

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Artist Ciaran Dunleavy takes a break from his work on the Francis Ledwidge centenary mural at the Village Garden in Slane. Photo: Paul Murphy.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys T.D. will lead the official representation at a special State commemoration on Saturday next, 24th June 2017, of the centenary of the death of Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, the poet, Irish volunteer and soldier, who died in the Battle of Passchendaele on 31st July 1917.  

The event has been arranged in partnership with Meath County Council and the Francis Ledwidge Museum Committee and comprises a significant cultural element, incorporating poetry, music and readings.  The ceremony will culminate in the formal State commemoration and wreath-laying ceremony, with participation by members of the Defence Forces.   

Speaking in advance of the event Minister Humphreys said: “Ledwidge was a poet and a patriot, and it is fitting that he is being remembered in this special commemorative ceremony in the cottage where he was born in Slane. 

“Many of us will remember reading the poetry of Ledwidge as children; he wrote beautifully about the landscape of County Meath and the vivid sights and sounds of the Boyne Valley, which inspired him.   

Another event to mark the centenary of the Slane poet’s death is the launch of a new cycle of songs by local composer Michael Holohan and a book of poems by Susan Connolly at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Slane, on Wednesday 28th June, 2017 at 8pm. (Admission : Free)     

The song cycle, The Hills are Crying, will include a number of Ledwidge’s most celebrated poems: Thomas Mac Donagh, In France, Crewbawn, Stanley Hill, Crocknaharna, Currabwee, A Soldier’s Grave, The Hills and others.The performers will be Hannah O’Brien soprano, Rebecca Draisey- Collishaw oboe/cor anglais and Michael Holohan piano. 

Susan Connolly’s new book of poems “The Orchard Keeper” came about following a chance encounter with an elderly man beside the orchard at Donaghmore, which led her to explore the life of Francis Ledwidge’s in greater depth. 

Francis Ledwidge was born in Slane, Co. Meath, in 1887. He wrote poetry from an early age. He enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1914, and survived the battlefields of Gallipoli, Serbia and Arras before being killed on July 31st, 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres.

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