New stamp marks centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge

Slane-born poet and soldier was killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele

Remembered by Seamus Heaney as 'our dead enigma' in his poem 'In memoriam Francis Ledwidge'. The 31st of July marks the centenary of death of WWI poet Francis Ledwidge. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

An Post has issued a stamp commemorating the centenary of the death of soldier and poet Francis Ledwidge recalling his status as the “blackbird of Slane”.

The €1 stamp features a well-known portrait of the poet along with a contemporary photograph of a blackbird taken by nature photographer Lewis Bates. It was designed by Detail, a Dublin design agency.

Commemoration services will take place over the weekend to mark the death of Ledwidge who was killed by a shell on July 31st, 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

A delegation of 55 people from Slane will gather in Artillery Road Cemetery outside Ypres on Monday for the anniversary of the death. It will be a joint commemoration along with one to remember the Welsh poet and soldier Hedd Wyn who was killed on the same day 100 years ago.

In Dublin, a commemoration service will take place at midday on Sunday in the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge organised by the Inchicore Ledwidge Society. It will be led by Prof Gerald Dawe of Trinity College Dublin.

On Sunday, a gala memorial concert will take place in Richmond Barracks, Inchicore, where Ledwidge trained with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers before going to war.

The centenary of his death will be remembered with a gala poetry read in Kilmainham Gaol at 7pm on Monday.

The In Flanders Fields Museum at Ypres in Belgium estimates that almost 100,000 British Empire soldiers, including Ledwidge, were killed in the Flanders campaign of 1917 which lasted from June 1st to November 17th.

Of the 99,253 men who died, almost 5,000 (4,901) were Irish or from Irish regiments.

The overall total of dead at Passchendaele number at least 150,000 including 43,154 confirmed German dead with between 10,000 and 15,000 still unaccouted for.

The worst day for the Irish at Passchendaele was August 16th, 1917. The 16th (Irish) Division and 36th (Ulster) Division suffered almost 1,200 dead between them in a doomed assault at Frezenberg Ridge.