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Born in poverty in Slane, Co. Meath, Francis Ledwidge worked as a farm hand, copper miner and road labourer. In his twenties he was to become a rising star on the Irish literary scene, although he lived only to see one collection of his verse in print, receiving his author’s copy while freezing and on starvation rations in Serbia.
Although a staunch Irish Nationalist, he chose to fight in the First World War, where he died – just short of his thirtieth birthday – in the nightmare Third Battle of Ypres.
‘I watched the night fade, star by star
And sudden glories of the dawn
Shine on the muddy ranks of war.’
Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)