The centenary of the death of the Meath poet Francis Ledwidge will be commemorated during 2017 through a programme of events organised by Meath County Council Cultural Services and by the Ledwidge Museum Committee. The programme was launched in the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, Co. Meath, on 23 March at 7.30 pm. Download the full programme here.
Meath County Council Library Service is organising a commemorative grant scheme to mark the centenary. The closing date for applications is 31 March and notifications to successful applicants will issue on 7 April. The library service, in conjunction with New Island Press, is also supporting the re-issue of Selected Poems by Francis Ledwidge, edited by Dermot Bolger, with an introductory essay on the poet by Seamus Heaney. This was launched in the Solstice Arts Centre on 23 March at 7.30 p.m. as part of the announcement of the Ledwidge 2017 Centenary Programme. The library service is also working with Poetry Ireland in commissioning a new volume dedicated to Francis Ledwidge, which will be published to mark the anniversary of Ledwidge’s death at Ypres on 31 July 1917.
A Francis Ledwidge Bursary Award for Emerging Writers was also announced by Meath County Council Arts Office, which will be open to emerging writers from all over the country. The Tyrone Guthrie Centre has confirmed it will be a partner in this initiative which will enable writers to spend time at the centre. Application details will be available shortly.
Meath Arts Office has engaged playwright Deirdre Kinahan as Literary Associate who will curate readings from the poet’s work by major writers and artists. Dates and venues will be announced soon. Bronze plaques from artist Liam Ó Broin have been commissioned by the Arts Office, in collaboration with the Ledwidge Museum. For this centenary year two memorial plaques will be installed, one at the Conyngham Arms hotel and one in the Slane Community Garden. Further plaques will be added in 2018.
The annual Kells Type Trail Festival which celebrates the art form of lettering will be supported by the Arts Office. Local, national and international artists as well as students from Dundalk and Athlone Institutes of Technology will create artistic interpretations of a single word which are then installed at strategic locations in Kells creating the TypeTrail which runs for six weeks each summer. This year Ledwidge is being chosen as the source of inspiration. The National Print Museum will give workshops and demonstrations in a pop-up print works, using selected works by the poet.
The County Heritage Office, in conjunction with the Library and the Ledwidge Museum, is organising a seminar on the theme ‘Francis Ledwidge: poetry and the First World War 1917-2017’. The seminar will be facilitated by Gerald Dawe, poet and Professor of English at Trinity College, Dublin and will take place on 14 October in Slane Castle.
The Boyne Valley Natural History Field Club will hold one of its regular events in Slane during 2017 in tribute to Ledwidge and to highlight the local natural world which was inspirational to him. Ledwidge’s love of the natural world will feature again during Heritage Week in August 2017. The theme this year of ‘getting in touch with nature’ which will provide much scope to reflect on the poetry and short life of the Slane native.
The Solstice Arts Centre is running a series of events to mark the centenary. In the main auditorium on 6 April at 8pm, New Theatre Dublin presents a new biographical drama, Ledwidge, by Gerald Humphreys. An exhibition entitled A name unmade: Francis Ledwidge will run from 28 April to 16 June 2017 in the gallery. This is a combined exhibition of archival material as well as new and recent work by contemporary visual artists. Associated with the exhibition, a series of workshops for children will take place on Saturday mornings 6, 13 and 20 May. Solstice is collaborating with the Nerve Centre from Derry to present Francis Ledwidge the Soldier Poet. This graphic novel representation on the foyer wall will offer an insight into the events of 1916 through the experiences of Ledwidge. This will run from 28 April to 16 June 2017. Solstice will also commission music trio There is an Island to arrange four new vocal pieces of Ledwidge’s poetry. The pieces will be performed on tour throughout Ireland during the second half of 2017.
Speaking at the launch of the centenary, Meath County Council Chief Executive Jackie Maguire said ‘it is most fitting, that a century later that the current staff and members of Meath County Council find themselves central to the commemorations for one of their own predecessors. I look forward to an exciting year of events and activities as we celebrate the life of this remarkably gifted poet.’
From Century Ireland: The life of Francis Ledwidge