Aine Miller reads at the  Francis Ledwidge commemorative festival at Islandbridge in 1997. Ledwidge, a nationalist poet, was in Dublin during the very week of the Easter Rising, having recovered in England from serious injuries incurred while fighting in the British army in the first World War

The history of recent conflict in Ireland is usually traced to the early years of the twentieth century, and the key figure who determined the way (...)

Irish poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge (1891 - 1917). Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

I first heard the name of the Meath poet Francis Ledwidge in a Dublin classroom in 1966 – central to that year’s schoolday preoccupations was learning(...)

WB Yeats – “I think it better that in times like these/ A poet’s mouth be silent ...”

“Never such innocence again” In his poem “MCMXIV”, looking back on the first World War two decades later, Philip Larkin writes of it as the des(...)

Desolation: part of Zonnebeke, painted in 1918 by William Orpen. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Ireland, poetry and the first World War is a story of contradictions, of contrasts and, a century later, of reconciliation. It should not pass us b(...)

Irish outlook: George Bernard Shaw. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty

In June 1915 WB Yeats wrote to his American friend and patron John Quinn about the Great War then raging across Europe. It was, he said, “merely th(...)

Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? – Nomad Theatre stage version including  Fergal McElherron and Sam Peter Corry – represented important attempts to re-examine the first World War and its legacy. Photograph: Colm Henry

War is ambivalent; for the powers that decide to wage it, it is as ancient as man, even older than Homer and is caused by expansionist greed and do(...)

British troops advancing at Gallipoli on August 6th, 1915. Amongst the dead, injured and missing of the ill-fated campaign were thousands of Irishmen. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By the end of 1914, conflict on the Western Front had reached military stalemate. British High Command sought for a new campaign. A plan was hatched t(...)

Soldiers of the 5th London Rifle Brigade with German Saxon regimental troops at Ploegsteert Wood during the Christmas Truce in 1914. Photograph:  Popperfoto/Getty Images

On the Western Front on December 24th 1914, thousands of soldiers from the British Expeditionary Forces, which included men from all parts of the i(...)

Francis Ledwidge. Photograph: Getty Images
A Soldier’s Grave

Then in the lull of midnight, gentle arms Lifted him slowly down the slopes of death Lest he should hear again the mad alarms Of battle, dying moans, (...)

Irish writer  Francis Ledwidge, pictured around 1915. An event will take place in Brussels today to commemorate both  Ledwidge and Welsh poet Hedd Wyn. The two poets never met, but they were both killed during the first World War on July 31st, 1917. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Heads of state from across the world, including President Michael D Higgins, gather in the Belgian town of Liège this Monday to mark the centenary (...)