Francis Ledwidge statue to be unveiled in Slane

Meath-born poet and soldier was killed 100 years ago at Battle of Passchendaele

Poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge was killed by a German shell on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, July 31st, 1917. File photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge was killed by a German shell on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, July 31st, 1917. File photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

The poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge will be honoured 100 years after his death in his home village of Slane, Co Meath, with a statue.

Ledwidge became the most famous Irish casualty of the Battle of Passchendaele when he was killed by a German shell on the first day of the battle, July 31st, 1917.

The bronze statue by the artist Liam Ó Broin depicts the poet sitting down writing a poem with a blackbird at his shoulder.

Local councillor Wayne Harding and the Ledwidge Cottage Committee instigated the sculpture which is financed by Meath County Council.

Cllr Harding said it was “something we have wanted for years, a centrepiece for the village” and the culmination of two years of voluntary work by the Slane Tidy Towns committee. “It will be a proud day for all of us.”

Cllr Harding and 50 residents of Slane travelled to Belgium to mark the centenary of Ledwidge’s death in July. He likened it to an “Irish funeral that should have happened 100 years ago”.

The statue will be unveiled by Ledwidge’s nephew Joe Ledwidge and by his grandnephew Dr Frank Ledwidge. Dr Ledwidge, like his granduncle, served in the British army. The statue will be unveiled at 6pm.

On Saturday, there will be a poetry seminar at Slane Castle organised by Prof Gerald Dawe of Trinity College Dublin.

A new book A Bittern Cry, edited by Tom French, will be launched with 19 writers paying tribute to the poet.

The book is published by Meath County Council, Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann and the Francis Ledwidge Museum.