There is no evidence they ever met, or knew of each other, but the Meath poet Francis Ledwidge and the Welsh language poet Ellis Humphrey Evans (Head Wyn) have much in common and shared a similar fate.
Both were born in rural communities in 1887 and died on the same day, 31 July 1917, at the start of the Battle of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele). They are buried a few rows apart in the Artillery Wood Cemetery in Flanders. Both were influenced by the great Welsh epic poem The Mabinogion. Both, for different reasons, came to resent their involvement in the war machine of 1914-18.
They will be the subject of a talk to be given by myself, and Dr. Nerys Williams of the UCD School of English, in Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, as part of their Winter Lecture series, on 9 February. The talk will include translations of the work of Hedd Wyn by Dr. Williams, who is also an award winning English-language poet (Sound Archive, 2011, winner of the Strong Poetry Prize 2012)
The series also includes talks on a variety of subjects related to 1917 to be given by Brian Hanley, Michael Kennedy, Conor Kostick, Liz Gillis and Kate O’Malley.
All lectures start at 7.00 pm at the Museum’s Milestone Gallery.
As part of the Gallipoli centenary commemorations in Kells, Co.Meath – co-sponsored by the Hay/Kells Festival and RTE Radio 1’s The History Show – distinguished World War 1 historian will give the inaugural Francis Ledwidge Memorial Lecture on ‘Ireland and Gallipoli’ in St. Columba’s Church of Ireland Church at 7.30 on Friday 24 April.
Philip Orr is the author of The Road to the Somme an account of the experience of the 36th Ulster division on 1 July 1916 and Field of Bones, a narrative of the 10th (Irish) division at Gallipoli in August 1915.
Francis Ledwidge, poet and nationalist, was a member of the 10th (Irish) division during the Gallipoli campaign and died in Belgium in 1917.
The lecture will begin a weekend of commemorative events and lectures to mark the centenary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign where more than 4000 Irish lives were lost.
In future years the Francis Ledwidge Memorial lecture will form part of the annual Hay/Kells Literary Festival.
The weekend will also include an examination of the role of journalism and poetry in the war in a day of lectures entitled The first draft of history? Journalism and poetry in the Great War, a day of talks on Ireland and Gallipoli on Sunday 26 April and a concert of WW1 music and anti-WW1 songs from Declan O’Rourke at 8.00 on Saturday 25 April.
There will also be memorabilia and genealogical experts (Tom Burnell and Gordon Power) available for consultation and a WW1 tour of the town led by archaeologist and historian Damien Shiels.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONSULT THE RTE RADIO 1 HISTORY SHOW WEBSITE – http://www.rte.ie/radio1/the-history-show/
For tickets to all Gallipoli100 events phone 046-9240055
Gallipoli 100 is funded with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Reconciliation Fund and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.