Francis Ledwidge Exhibition
To mark the centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge, Sean Tiernan has produced a series of paintings that illustrate aspects of the poets life. The paintings encompass places and events that Ledwidge was associated with in and around Slane. In addition; there will be paintings, which are interpretive of aspects of Francis Ledwidge’s poetry.
Sean Tiernan growing up in Slane during the latter part of the Second World War, was aware of the tragic death in 1917 of the poet Francis Ledwidge. His family had been friendly with the Ledwidges, and the bond was more firmly cemented when Francis composed a poem ‘A Little Boy in the Morning’ for Sean’s uncle, who had died at the age of twelve. Francis Ledwidge used to greet him as he passed the gate in the mornings.
Ledwidge was born just outside the village of Slane in 1887. When Francis was only four, his father died, and the Ledwidge family then plunged into a life of poverty. He had to leave school at thirteen years of age but had already shown a literary talent beyond his years.
Francis took a variety of menial jobs in the area but had soon started to write poetry. Some of these poems were sent by him to Lord Dunsany who recognised an emerging talent and encouraged him to continue writing. He also introduced him to other poets of the day.
He and his younger brother Joe were founder members of the Slane corps of the Irish Volunteers. Like many of the volunteers Francis joined up at the outbreak of the War in 1914. Unfortunately he was killed during the battle of Ypres in July 1917.
In later years Francis’ younger brother Joe, frequently accompanied Sean as he cycled to school in Navan. On these journeys he regaled him, with stories of growing up in Slane with Francis, with his wide knowledge of the wonders of nature and the universe and the poetry of his brother. Sean’s view of Francis Ledwidge as a Slane local lad and as a significant poet grew over this time from the stories of Joe, in addition, to anecdotes from his father who knew the poet well. From all this has sprung Sean’s desire to mark the 100th anniversary of death of ‘Ireland’s Keats’ in paint.