Belfast Telegraph

Irish soldier poet Ledwidge to get blue plaque tribute

By Rebecca Black

He died in one of the bloodiest offensives of the First World War.

Now, a century on, an Irish soldier killed at Passchendaele will be remembered.

Francis Ledwidge was born in Co Meath and became a poet of such repute that aristocrat Lord Dunsany became his patron and helped him to publish his first collection of poems.

The two men both enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at the outbreak of the First World War, and in 1916 found themselves stationed at Ebrington Barracks in Londonderry - Lord Dunsany as the commanding officer and Ledwidge as the soldier.

Ledwidge continued to write poetry during his service, including a selection for his second book Songs Of Peace, and also his most famous poem about a lost love that led to him becoming known as the Poet of the Blackbird.

The regiment left for the front in Belgium on Boxing Day 1916 to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres. It was there, on July 31, 1917, that Ledwidge was killed by a shell along with five of his comrades.

Ulster History Circle chair Chris Spurr said the plaque to commemorate Ledwidge will be the first of five in its new partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

"Throughout his life and in his work Francis Ledwidge displayed integrity towards all that he undertook, and he continues to be an inspiration to our age and into the future," he said.

The plaque will be unveiled on Friday at noon at Ebrington Square by Francis Ledwidge's great nieces, Catherine Diggett and Eileen Ledwidge-Wilson

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