The Irish Poet and the Natural World
An Anthology of Verse in English from the Tudors to the Romantics
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Cork University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Note on the Texts
The poems in this anthology are arranged chronologically so that the reader can appreciate the evolving relationship between Irish poets and the natural world from the late Tudor period to the Romantic...
Throughout history, man’s relationship with the natural world has been central to his attempts to understand the meaning of life. Though the origins of modern ecocriticism lie in Romantic opposition to the destruction of nature by industrial advancement,1 earlier texts reveal close emotional and practical connections to the non-human world, as...
Prelude - Luke Gernon (1600–1620–1673)
This Nymph of Ireland, is at all poynts like a yong wenche that hath the greene sicknes1 for want of occupying. She is very fayre of visage, and hath a smooth skinn of tender grasse. Indeed she is somewhat freckled (as the Irish are) some partes darker than other. Her flesh is of a softe and delicat mould of earthe, and her blew vaynes trayling...
Part I: 1580–1689
John Derricke (fl.1575–1581)
The title page to The Image of Irelande, printed in London in 1581, states that the impressive woodcuts of life in Elizabethan Ireland it contains – as well, presumably as the long poem that precedes them – were ‘made and devised by Ihon Derricke, Anno 1578’. Nothing definite is known about this John Derricke, but it seems likely that, whoever he was, he...
Richard Stanihurst (1547–1582–1618)
Richard Stanihurst is the most interesting and significant Irish-born poet writing in English before Swift. His family was prominent in the Old English community in Dublin, and Stanihurst was educated in Kilkenny, at Oxford and at the Inns of Court in London. (There was no university in Ireland when Stanihurst was young.) When he returned to Ireland, ...
Edmund Spenser (c.1552–c.1595–1599)
Edmund Spenser spent most of his adult life in Ireland as Secretary to the Lord Deputy, Lord Grey. Almost everything he wrote after 1580, including most of The Faerie Queene, all of Colin Clouts Come Home Againe and the Epithalamion, was written in Ireland and he used the country as a setting in these poems. Ireland is seen as both friendly and welcoming...
Richard Nugent (fl.1604)
Richard Nugent was a member of a prominent Old English family based in County Westmeath.1 His only published work was a sonnet sequence, Rich: Nugents Cynthia. Containing direfull sonnets, madrigalls, and passionate intercourses, describing his repudiate affections expressed in loves owne language (London, 1604) which concerns his rejection by the Irish ‘Cynthia’. The poet, spurned, left Ireland for London and, in the sonnet...
In September 1621, thousands of starlings (‘stares’) did battle with each other over Cork city, thoroughly alarming the citizens. The ballad that commemorated the event suggested that this unnatural event was a sign of divine displeasure and urged Cork’s citizens to repent of their evil ways (ll. 107–8).
Richard Bellings (c.1598–1624–1677)
Richard Bellings, one of the most prominent catholic lawyers of seventeenth-century Ireland, was born into a well-established family which owned estates in counties Wicklow and Kildare. He went to London as a young man to be educated at Lincoln’s Inn and later played a central role in Irish political life in the 1640s, becoming secretary to the confederate...
Lady Ann Southwell (1571–c.1626–1636)
Lady Ann Southwell (née Harris) and her first husband Thomas Southwell came to Ireland early in the seventeenth century as planters. They lived for many years at Poulnelong Castle in County Cork and developed a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Lady Southwell’s lively intellect and her grasp of contemporary neo-Platonism appears in the ambitious (and...
The setting for this very early hunting song is the countryside of Fingal, north of Dublin, and the location for the meet of huntsmen and hounds is Howth Castle, the seat of the St Lawrence family, Lords of Howth. Since those named in the first stanza were active in the 1630s, the song clearly dates from that period. The earliest written text, however, is a scribal...
Though this strange poem was printed in London, it is strongly linked with events in Ireland and was almost certainly written in Ireland by a Protestant English planter who had been forced out of his ‘happie state’ and ‘setled place’ in Ireland during the 1641 Rising. The poet/planter, who had clearly been committed to building up his herd and raising cattle for live export, used the ‘Complaint’ which precedes the poem proper to bewail the ‘grievous...
Payne Fisher (1616–1645–1693)
Payne Fisher was born in Dorset and educated at both Oxford and Cambridge. Though he enlisted in the army raised by Charles I to fight against the Scots, Fisher changed sides and abandoned the royalists after the king’s forces were defeated at Marston Moor in July 1644. When he came to Ireland in July 1645, it was as commanding officer of a small force of...
John Perrot (fl.1659–1671)
John Perrot was a convinced Quaker who probably came to Ireland from England in the middle of the seventeenth century. He was a colourful and eccentric figure whose many pamphlets show him to have been, for substantial periods of his life, unbalanced. As an active Quaker, he was imprisoned in Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick and Dublin as well as...
Katherine Philips (1632–1662–1664)
Katherine Philips, who was born in London of Welsh extraction, became known in England and Wales during the 1650s as a wit and as a poet. She came to Dublin in 1662 and soon attached herself to the court, becoming friendly with the new Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Ormond, and joining the circle of poets in and around Dublin Castle. Members of this group...
Sir William Temple (1628–c.1663–1699)
Sir William Temple and his sister Martha were brought up in Dublin where their father, Sir John Temple, was Master of the Rolls. After time at Cambridge and on the continent, Sir William returned to Ireland for much of the 1650s, living on his estate near Carlow; he was elected MP for Carlow in the Irish parliament of 1661. His sister Martha married Sir Thomas...
Ambrose White (fl.1665)
Almanacs were very popular in seventeenth-century Ireland, though they were so heavily used that few have survived. The astronomical information they contained was calculated for the town in which they were printed, and the body of the almanac contained information likely to be useful to those living in the area – the phases of the moon and the dates of fairs, for instance...
Richard Head (c.1637–1674–1686)
Richard Head, one of the most colourful writers of the Irish Restoration period, was born in the North of Ireland. His father was killed in the Rising of 1641 after which the family fled from Carrickfergus to Belfast and on to Devon. Head apparently attended Oxford but left without a degree and became a bookseller in London. He returned to Ireland in about 1660...
Edmund Arwaker (c.1655–1686–c.1710)
Edmund Arwaker was educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College Dublin, and was ordained into the Church of Ireland. He was chaplain to the Duke of Ormond and, later, archdeacon of Armagh. Arwaker was not only the most prolific Irish poet of his age but probably the worst. One of the less absurd offerings from his pen is a poem of enthusiastic...
Part II: 1690–1739
Nahum Tate (1652–1696–1715)
Nahum Tate, the son of the poet Faithfull Teate, was born in Dublin. He changed his name from Teate to Tate when he was at Trinity College, from which he graduated in 1672. He later moved to London where he knew all the literary figures of the day and collaborated with Dryden on the second part of...
George Wilkins (1674–1699–?)
George Wilkins was born in Lisburn, County Antrim and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He was ordained into the Church of Ireland and eventually became rector of Blaris, a parish on the border between the counties of Antrim and Down. In February 1724, while holding this living, Wilkins preached the sermon at the funeral of Sir John Rawdon, father of the...
Dorothy Smith (fl.1701)
The arrival in Dublin of the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Laurence Hyde first earl of Rochester (1642–1711), in September 1701 was marked by the appearance in print of two poems of welcome by otherwise unknown Dublin poets, Dorothy Smith and Bartholomew Williams. Williams’s Pindaric ode celebrating the occasion is extraordinary...
Jonathan Swift (1667–1710–1745)
Though Swift was born and educated in Ireland – and indeed, passed most of his life the country – he liked to think of himself as an Englishman and visited London for extended periods in the first years of the eighteenth century. During these years, he tried his hand at several different forms of writing, including the imitation of Virgil’s Georgics that follows...
Thomas Parnell (1679–1713–1718)
Thomas Parnell was born in Dublin, educated at Trinity College and ordained into the Church of Ireland. In 1706, he was appointed archdeacon of Clogher and in 1716 became vicar of Finglas, near Dublin. He visited London frequently and became friendly with Swift, Pope and other members of the Scriblerus Club. Alexander Pope, who edited Parnell’s verse...
James Ward (1691–1718–1736)
James Ward was a contemporary of Swift’s friend Thomas Sheridan, both at school in Dublin and at Trinity College, from which both men graduated in 1711. Like Sheridan, Ward was ordained into the Church of Ireland and he eventually (1726) became Dean of Cloyne. As Ward makes clear, his poem on Dublin’s great public park, the Phoenix Park, was heavily...
John Winstanley(?) (1677–1718–1750)
Ringsend, now a suburb of Dublin, was a rather rough seaside village in the early-eighteenth century, cut off from the city at high tide. However it boasted fine taverns and a good beach and was a favourite place for excursions from Dublin – particularly for women who hoped that stroking the captive dolphin, Jenny, would bring them an easy childbirth and good luck...
John Winstanley(?) (1677–c.1720–1750)
The ‘rich’ family behind this poem was that of the Right Hon. Robert Rochford (1652–1727), Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Lord Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer; he was a wealthy man who owned a mansion at Gaulstown, Co. Westmeath and a house at Newpark, near Swords, Co. Dublin. His two sons George (1683–1730) and John...
James Arbuckle (c.1700–1721–c.1747)
James Arbuckle came from Belfast. Like many young Irishmen from the dissenting tradition, he went to the University of Glasgow (rather than to the old-fashioned, Anglican-oriented Trinity College Dublin), where he made a name for himself as a writer of verse and political activist. He settled in Dublin in about 1722 and became prominent in the circle around...
Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) and William Dunkin (1705–1765), 1723
In 1723, after the death of Vanessa Van Homrigh (whose violent attachment to Swift had been the cause of much gossip and of considerable embarrassment to him), Swift took a long journey, alone, to the south and west of Ireland. In the course of this expedition, he wrote a poem in Latin on the rocky seascape in the barony of Carbery in west County Cork...
Thomas Sheridan (1687–1724–1738)
Thomas Sheridan, one of the most famous Dublin schoolmasters of the eighteenth century, was born in County Cavan. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and ordained into the Church of Ireland; he was a close friend of Jonathan Swift and an important member of the circle surrounding the dean. In the affectionate but ironic poem that follows – ‘ironic’...
Thomas Sheridan(?) (1687–1725–1738)
The first appearance of this entertaining poem is in a broadside printed by Sarah Harding in Dublin in 1725. It was subsequently fathered on Swift (by Elrington Ball in Swift’s Verse, 1929), but is now thought to have been the work of Thomas Sheridan – an attack on his enemy Dick Tighe. The poem with the (arguably more suitable) title ‘The Case of Man’...
Laetitia Pilkington (c.1708–1725–1750)
Laetitia Pilkington is best known for her highly entertaining three-volume Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington (1748–54). In addition to its revelations about her own unconventional life, Mrs Pilkington’s Memoirs contains what is, in effect, the first biography of Swift. Embedded in the text are many of her own poems and some by her friends; the one below...
Mr B-------r (fl.1726)
Though this poem was not published until 1742, it was written when Lord Carteret was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1724 and 1730. The author was possibly a Mr Belcher, holder of minor offices in Dublin Castle and probably the same man as the ‘Secretary Belchier’ to whom ‘The Villa’ (see below under 1754) was dedicated. Ortolans are attractive...
Murroghoh O’Connor (fl.1726)
In 1719, there appeared in Dublin and London a strange poem entitled A Pastoral In Imitation of the First Eclogue of Virgil: Inscrib’d to the Provost, Fellows, and Scholars of Trinity College, Dublin, by Murroghoh O Connor of Aughanagraun. The poet (whose first name is spelt differently in each printing of his verses) had rented a farm from the university...
Charles Coffey(?) (1700–1727–1745)
Charles Coffey is best known for his ballad operas and was the first dramatist to incorporate Irish songs into English-language libretti for the Dublin and London stages.1 He is said to have been a schoolmaster in Dublin and to have been a friend of the Irish actress Peg Woffington. Some time in the 1730s, Coffey moved from Dublin to London where he was...
Mary Barber (c.1685–c.1728–1755)
Mary Barber, the wife of a Dublin woollen draper, was an active and accomplished poet. She was a member of Swift’s Dublin circle in the 1730s and acted on his behalf with publishers in London. Many of her poems spring from domestic activities. It is not clear which of Mrs Barber’s country friends owned gardens fit to be described as ‘your Versailles’; ...
Matthew Pilkington (1701–1731–1774)
The diminutive Matthew Pilkington is better known today as the estranged husband of the fast-living poet Laetitia Pilkington than for his own substantial accomplishments as classical scholar, poet and art historian. He was born in County Offaly and, after graduating from Trinity College, was ordained into the Church of Ireland and married Laetitia in 1725. The...
James Belcher(?) (fl.1726–1732)
This poem first appeared as an anonymous broadsheet in Dublin in 1732 (Foxon 163); on the only known copy of this printing (now in the Huntington Library) an early owner has inscribed ‘By Ia. Belcher Esqr’. If this is correct, the poet is the same man as the author of ‘On the Ortolans’ of c.1726 and, according to Professor James Woolley, of several other...
Patrick Delany (1685–c.1732–1768)
Patrick Delany, one of Swift’s closest friends, was born in Queen’s County (now County Laois) and educated at Trinity College Dublin where he became a Fellow and Professor of Oratory and History. He was ordained into the Church of Ireland and eventually became Dean of Down. Delany is remembered for his hospitality at Delville, his elegant house and...
John Lawson(?) (1708/9–1733–1759)
Though this poem appeared anonymously, it was almost certainly the work of the accomplished Latinist, John Lawson, to whom it is attributed in two surviving copies (NLI and the University of Michigan). Lawson was from County Monaghan and entered Trinity College Dublin in 1727. He rose through the ranks to become college librarian, lecturer in...
James Delacourt (1709–1734–1781)
The Rev. James Delacourt (the name is spelt in several different ways) was born in Cork. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin where he became embroiled in a battle of wits that involved Charles Carthy and William Dunkin, among others. Delacourt was ordained into the Church of Ireland and returned to Cork where his contemporaries considered him...
Henry Brooke (c.1703–1735–1783)
Henry Brooke was born in County Cavan, the son of a clergyman. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and soon became a prolific writer. His daughter Charlotte, famous for her Reliques of Irish Poetry (1789), edited his works for publication and they appeared in four volumes shortly before he died in Dublin in 1783...
James Sterling (1701–1737–1763)
James Sterling was born in 1701 in County Offaly, the son of a ‘gentleman’. He obtained his BA from Trinity College Dublin in 1720. His first play seems to have been performed in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre in 1723; he contributed three poems to Matthew Concanen’s Miscellaneous Poems, original and translated (London, 1724) and published...
Part III: 1740–1769
Wetenhall Wilkes (1705/6–1741–1751)
Wetenhall Wilkes – one of eighteenth-century Ireland’s more endearing eccentrics – was born in County Cavan and educated at Trinity College Dublin. Wilkes was a spendthrift who soon found himself heavily in debt and was forced to take up residence in the debtors’ prison in Dublin. While in prison, he wrote and published several long, rambling poems...
Walter Chamberlaine(?) (c.1706–1741–1754)
Though it appeared anonymously, this poem has been ascribed to Rev. Walter Chamberlaine (c.1706–54), brother of the playwright Frances Sheridan and one of the wits in Trinity College Dublin in the 1730s. After a shaky start (in which the clergyman-poet complains that he seems ‘doom’d to a Country Church remote and Poor’), the poem gathers pace and...
Samuel Shepherd (1701/2–1741–1785)
Samuel Shepherd, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, was rector of the village of Leixlip near Dublin for many years in the middle of the eighteenth century, having been chaplain to two Lords Lieutenant, the Earl of Chesterfield and the Duke of Dorset. His substantial poetic output includes translations from the classics, odes, lighthearted love lyrics and...
William Dunkin (1705–1741–1765)
William Dunkin, who came from County Louth, was born in 1705. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin, where he was a member of a group of lively young scholars who entertained each other and the Dublin coffee-houses by publishing scurrilous verse satires. He joined the circle around Swift who described him as ‘a Gentleman of much Wit, and the...
Thomas Delamayne (1718–1742–1773)
This poem is addressed to the famous Irish portrait painter Francis Bindon (c.1690–1765), asking him to paint a particular scene and suggesting, in precise detail, what the poet thinks should be included in the painting. The device enables the poet to highlight particular events and so emphasize their political or social significance while appearing to stand back from...
Laurence Whyte (c.1683–1742–c.1753)
Laurence Whyte, who was born in County Westmeath, became a teacher of mathematics in Dublin. He wrote a prodigious quantity of verse and described himself on the title pages of his two volumes as ‘A Lover of the Muses and of Mathematics’. Several of his poems depict the effect on ordinary people of the drastic economic changes of the early eighteenth century...
Laurence Whyte (c.1683–1742–c.1753)
The extract below is from Whyte’s most famous poem, ‘The Parting Cup or the HUMOURS of Deoch an Doruis’, which depicts life in County Westmeath in the early years of the eighteenth century. Whyte describes the world of a substantial Catholic farmer to whom he gives the name ‘Deoch an Doruis’, which he translates as ‘the parting cup’ and by which he...
Thomas Mozeen (fl.1744–1768)
Thomas Mozeen was an English actor who lived in Dublin for two years in the 1740s. He seems to have spent his time drinking and riding, and was well known to several residents of counties Wicklow and Dublin, including the sixth Earl of Meath and Owen Bray, the hospitable landlord of a public house at Loughlinstown. Mozeen’s most famous poem, the...
Henry Jones (1721–1744–1770)
Henry Jones was born near Drogheda and trained as a bricklayer. He began writing poems and was introduced to Lord Chesterfield, Lord Lieutenant at the time. Chesterfield gave Jones considerable support in Dublin and, later, in London where his Poems on Several Occasions (London and Dublin 1749) was very successful, as was his play, The Earl of Essex. Jones eventually took to drink and died in poverty...
Henry Jones (1721–1746–1770)
This poem by Henry Jones commemorates a series of lectures on experimental philosophy given at ‘the Great House in Anglesea-Street’ in Dublin by John Booth in 1744. The lectures covered gravity and the solar system, and included experiments to demonstrate the mysterious powers of electricity and magnetism. It was not unusual for young ladies to...
Though it has been suggested (by Douglas Hyde and D.J. O’Donoghue in their catalogue of the Gilbert Library ) that this poem is the work of Rev. Samuel Shepherd, rector of Leixlip and prolific poet – for whom see above – this seems unlikely as it was not included by his daughters in their edition of his poems (Dublin, 1790) and it is considerably less...
Edmund Burke (1729–1748–1797)
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was considerable admiration for Virgil’s Georgics and their vision of unsophisticated, natural life in the countryside; passages of the text were translated or paraphrased into English by May, Ogilby, Cowley, Creech, Temple, Dryden, Pope, Thomson and many ‘gentlemen’. One of the most interesting Irish...
James Kirkpatrick (1696–1750–1770)
James Kirkpatrick was born in Carlow and spent time in Dublin as a young man. Presumably he trained as a physician before he sailed to America in the 1720s. Once in America, he became a respected authority on the newly invented practice of inoculation; after his return to England in the early 1740s, Kirkpatrick wrote a textbook on the subject and styled himself...
John Winstanley(?) (1677–c.1750–1750)
Though bathing in sea water was regularly prescribed as a cure for various ailments in the eighteenth century – and indeed became a fashionable recreation celebrated by poets from Blackrock, Co. Dublin to Ardglass Co. Down – there are few references in verse to polluted water. In this poem, the Revd. Mr ------- has clearly been advised to drink sea water to cure...
This poem comes from a strange and interesting collection of poems, mostly the work of Church of Ireland clergymen, entitled The Ulster Miscellany. Though the book was printed in Dublin, several of the poems in the collection originated in county Donegal; others come from different parts of Ireland. This is more lighthearted than many of the surviving poems...
This strange, unsophisticated poem was an attempt by an amateur poet at a Pindaric Ode – a poem on a lofty theme with rhyming lines of irregular length. It was dedicated to ‘Secretary Belchier’, presumably the author of ‘To the Ortolans’ above (1726). The poet, appropriately, put as epigraph to the poem the famous couplet from Pope’s...
Thomas Newburgh (c.1695–1758–1779)
Thomas Newburgh was born in Dublin, the son of the chairman of the Linen Board. He was educated at Oxford but returned to Ireland when he inherited an estate in County Cavan. The poem that follows is one of very few describing Irish eighteenth-century urban space. It comes from a volume of Newburgh’s miscellaneous work entitled...
Richard Barton (1706–1759–1759)
Richard Barton graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1726 and was ordained into the Church of Ireland, spending most of his life as rector of Shankhill, near Lurgan, Co. Armagh. He wrote on religious subjects and also, extensively, on the topography, geology and natural history of Lough Neagh and its hinterland. The poem that follows was designed to...
William Balfour Madden (c.1730–1761–1783)
William Balfour Madden was the fifth and youngest son of Revd Samuel Madden (1686– 1765), poet, playwright, philanthropist and satirist, a well-known benefactor to Trinity College Dublin and an enthusiastic supporter of the development of Irish agriculture and manufacture. William published only two poems, the one that follows and a scurrilous but...
James Eyre Weeks (c.1719–1762–1775)
James Eyre Weeks was born in Cork and educated at Trinity College Dublin where he was a contemporary of Thomas Sheridan, the actor and elocution teacher. He was ordained into the Church of Ireland and became tutor to the young Marquis of Lansdowne – later, as Lord Shelburne, an unpopular prime minister of Britain. Little is known of Weeks’s life, though...
John Cunningham (1729–1766–1773)
John Cunningham was born in Dublin and educated in Drogheda. While still in his teens he started writing poetry and plays and joined a troupe of actors travelling around Ireland. He subsequently moved to England, continuing to work as an actor: he published several volumes of pastoral poetry and counted Dr Johnson – among others – as an admirer. Charles...
Joseph Atkinson (1743–1769–1818)
Eighteenth-century poems on Killarney – and there are many of them – follow a set pattern: the poet calls on the muses to help him tell the reader how awestruck he is at the beauty of the mountains surrounding the lakes of Killarney and then describes them as seen from specific viewpoints. He praises the local landowners and compliments them on their villas...
Part IV: 1770–1799
Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1770–1774)
Goldsmith, the son of a clergyman, spent his childhood in counties Longford and Westmeath. He attended Trinity College Dublin after which he went to Edinburgh to study medicine. He travelled widely on the Continent, finally settling in London where he earned a precarious living as a writer and became a trusted member of the circle around Samuel Johnson. Among...
John Leslie (c.1719–1772–1778)
John Leslie was born in County Donegal. He entered Trinity College Dublin in 1736, was awarded a scholarship in 1739, a BA degree in 1740 and his MA in 1760. O’Donoghue states that he was tutor to Lord Clanwilliam – which, if true, must have been a difficult task as his lordship was one of the most notorious rakes and spendthrifts of the age. Even the...
The text that follows is a rare example of an eighteenth-century Dublin street song that refers to the interaction between humans and animals. It was collected in the nineteenth century but can be dated from internal evidence to 1772...
Gerald Fitzgerald (1740–1773–1819)
Gerald Fitzgerald entered Trinity College Dublin as a sizar (a student who undertook menial tasks and received a free education) in 1759. He became a fellow of the college in 1765, professor of Law in 1783 and of Hebrew in 1790. He retired at the age of 66 and spent the last thirteen years of his life as a country clergyman. The poem which follows recounts the...
This unusual poem appeared in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine in July 1776, two years before the foundation of the Irish Volunteers. Patriotic fervour was building up throughout Ireland as British soldiers were withdrawn to fight in the American War of Independence (1775–83). Landowners and men of property saw the reduction in troops as an opportunity to put...
Cock fighting was common in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ireland. Many towns had permanent cockpits where large sums of money were gambled. The ‘sport’ was not outlawed until 1837. This poem appeared in the ‘Original Poetry’ section of Walker’s Hibernian Magazine for 1777...
The anonymous author of this poem was determined to present the incoming Lord Lieutenant with a realistic picture of life in the Irish countryside. Though the poet warns that ‘civil broils’ caused by ‘Faction mask’d in patriotic guise’ exist in the country, his real concern is with the effects of landlordism. The prose introduction to the poem notes that...
James Henderson (fl.1777–1784)
From 1777 onwards, the ‘Original Poetry’ section of Walker’s Hibernian Magazine contained numerous poems from the pen of ‘J.H. of Hillsborough’, Co. Down. O’Donoghue states that they were the work of a James Henderson but gives no indication where he found this information. Henderson’s poems suggest that he spent his childhood wandering the hills...
This poem is another example of the provincial poetry – in this case from Belfast – carried in Irish monthly magazines in the late eighteenth century. This piece appeared in the Universal Magazine and Review or Repository of Literature containing the Literature, History, Manners, Arts and Amusements of the Age for March 1790. Like several other...
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, many songs celebrating particular localities in Ireland – their natural beauty and that of their maidens – made their way into print. Though Cappoquin is in County Waterford, this song was included in a chapbook printed by William Goggin of Limerick to be sold by chapmen at local fairs and assemblies in that area. Many...
James Creighton (1736–1791–1819)
James Creighton was born in County Cavan and educated at Cavan Grammar School and at Trinity College Dublin. He was ordained into the Church of Ireland and served as curate of Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan...
Ellen Taylor (fl.1792)
Though she later seems to have kept a school, Ellen Taylor was employed as a maid in a house near Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny when she wrote this poem. She explained, in the introduction to Poems by Ellen Taylor, the Irish Cottager (1792), that it was a guest in the house who encouraged her to write poetry. The same unknown benefactor may have been behind the attempt to raise money for her through the publication of her work. Only...
Samuel Thomson (1766–1793–1816)
Samuel Thomson lived all his life in a small thatched cottage at Carngranny near Templepatrick, Co. Antrim. Unlike most other self-taught ‘weaver poets’ of his time, Thomson was an educated man and he ran a small school in his house. Though he also wrote in English, Thomson’s best work is in Ulster-Scots. He greatly admired Robert Burns whom...
John Searson (fl.1795)
There is a certain innocent charm in John Searson’s doggerel descriptions of the north of Ireland in the 1790s. Searson seems to have been at various times a schoolmaster in Coleraine and a merchant in New York and Philadelphia – he was at all times an indefatigable versifier. Among his many self-published verses are ‘several entertaining...
Francis Boyle (c.1730–c.1795–c.1811)
Francis Boyle, one of the earliest poets to write in Ulster-Scots, lived in Gransha, Co. Down and was probably a weaver. He had a boisterous sense of humour which makes his Miscellaneous Poems (Belfast, 1811) more entertaining than the work of some other weaver poets...
Jane Elizabeth Moore (1738–1796–?)
Jane Elizabeth Moore was of English extraction. She gives a vivid account, in her Genuine Memoirs of Jane Elizabeth Moore (1785), of her work as a clerk in her father’s business. She moved to Dublin where she apparently bored Thomas Moore by insisting on reading her poems to him. In addition to the poem that follows, her volume of...
John Corry (fl.1797)
John Corry was born near Newry and is said to have worked in Dublin as a journalist before moving to London. Many members of the United Irishmen were subscribers to his Odes and Elegies, Descriptive and Sentimental (Newry, 1797) – a volume containing some interesting local verse. Corry wrote many novels, several volumes of history and a popular...
William H. Drummond (1778–1797–1856)
'Hibernia’, which first appeared anonymously in the Belfast radical newspaper The Northern Star, is normally attributed to William Hamilton Drummond, clergyman, antiquarian and (later) author of the best-known poem on the Giant’s Causeway (see below). Like much of the verse that appeared in Irish newspapers and pamphlets during the 1790s, the poem...
Part V: 1800–1819
William Drennan (1754–1802–1820)
William Drennan – the most outspoken Irish poetic voice of his age – was born in Belfast, the son of a dissenting minister. He was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and settled in Dublin where he practised as a doctor. He was one of the founders of the United Irishmen and was tried for sedition in 1794, though acquitted. He later moved...
Samuel Burdy (c.1758–1802–1820)
Samuel Burdy was born at Dromore, Co. Down, and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He was ordained into the Church of Ireland and spent most of his working life as curate at Ardglass, Co. Down. His most famous work was The Life of the late Revd Philip Skelton (1782) – an account of one of the more saintly Irish protestant divines of the age and a...
James Orr (1770–1804–1816)
James Orr, the radical weaver poet, was born in Ballycarry, Co. Antrim and educated at home. As a young man he published poems in the Northern Star newspaper and was actively involved in the 1798 rebellion. After the failure of the rebellion, he emigrated to the United States using his experiences of the voyage as the basis for two memorable poems. He...
James Orr (1770–1804–1816)
Orr’s vivid account of the baiting of a bull reflects growing public concern in Ireland at the suffering of animals.
William Webb (fl.1805)
Nothing certain is known of William Webb who seems to have published no poems but ‘Lakelands’ (named after the house he owned at Kilmacud, near Dublin) though it is possible that he was the William Webb who subscribed to Patrick O’Kelly’s Eudoxologist in 1812. This poem started life as a translation of three lines from Horace that Webb attempted ‘for...
Matthew W. Hartstonge (1772–1805–1825)
Matthew Weld (he added the name Hartstonge later in life) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College Dublin. He was a lawyer, but does not seem to have practised in Ireland. He corresponded extensively with Sir Walter Scott and wrote a historical romance entitled The Eve of All-Hallows; or, Adelaide of Tyrconnell (1825). The Minstrelsy of Erin, poems lyrical, pastoral and descriptive (Edinburgh 1812) – from which the following lines are taken – was his second volume of verse...
William M’Elroy (fl.1806)
William McElroy came from Fintona, Co. Tyrone and was, as O’Donoghue puts it, ‘a religious enthusiast’. His extraordinary The experience of manifestation: a poem to youth (printed for the author, Dublin, 1806) is charged with fanatical zeal and enlivened with copious biblical quotation. One poem, ‘To the proprietors of the new BOTANIC GARDEN, in...
Richard A. Millikin (1767–1807–1815)
Richard Millikin was born in County Cork and trained as a lawyer, though he was temperamentally more interested in painting, literature and music than the law. He lived in Cork city most of his life where, in 1797/98, he and his sister ran a literary magazine called The Casket or Hesperian Magazine. He wrote several plays and five volumes of poetry...
Sydney Owenson (c.1783–1807–1859)
Sydney Owenson, novelist, poet and literary celebrity, was the daughter of Robert Owenson, the most famous Irish actor of his day. She was brought up in Dublin and in 1812 married the surgeon in Lady Abercorn’s household, Thomas Charles Morgan, who was afterwards knighted. Her earliest publication, ...
Patrick O’Kelly (c.1746–1808–1837)
Pat O’Kelly, who was born in Loughrea Co. Galway, made a living for himself as a travelling bard, writing verses in praise of (or, if he had been badly treated, in dispraise of) the owners of the various Irish country houses where he begged hospitality. He was well known throughout the west of Ireland – his admirers called him ‘blest Laureate of our Isle’ and the...
Mary Leadbeater (1758–1808–1826)
Mary Shackleton was born in Ballitore, Co. Kildare, daughter of the Quaker schoolmaster, Richard Shackleton. She was educated at her father’s school – where Edmund Burke had earlier been a pupil – and married a local landowner, William Leadbeater. She wrote many books: diaries and prose accounts of her life in the Quaker community at Ballitore...
William Tighe (1766–1808–1816)
William Tighe, a cousin of Mary Tighe, inherited substantial estates at Rosanna, Co. Wicklow and Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny. He served as an anti-Union MP in the Irish parliament and later as a Whig in the parliament at Westminster. He was the author of an excellent Statistical Survey of the County Kilkenny (1802) and of a fascinating long poem, ...
Mary Tighe (1772–1809–1810)
Mary Tighe was born and raised in Dublin. She was famously beautiful but became an unwilling bride and an unhappy wife to her hedonistic cousin Henry Tighe, an anti-Union MP in the Irish parliament. Though she and her husband lived partly in London, much of her poetry was written at Rosanna, Co. Wicklow. Her work had very limited circulation...
Charles Boyd (1762–1809–?)
Charles Boyd was born in Dublin in 1762, educated at Trinity College Dublin and called to the Irish bar in 1776. He published a translation of Virgil’s Georgics and selected eclogues in Dublin in 1808 and this imitation and modernisation of the Georgics in the following year. In his introduction to the translation, he explains that his love of country pursuits has...
William Carr (fl.1810)
William Carr was from Newry. In addition to Rosstrevor, a moral and descriptive poem (1810), he published several other substantial poems and a journal of a tour from Edinburgh to the Highlands. The passage that follows is typical of scores of such blank-verse descriptions of the beauties of nature published in early nineteenth-century Ireland...
Samuel Fennell (fl.1811)
Samuel Fennell was a proud native of County Tipperary – a man who, as he stated in his prefatory ‘Advertisement’ to his 1811 Original Poems, had ‘never outstepped its borders for Education’. In addition, his book was printed in the County of Tipperary, ‘the Frontispiece was painted in it’ and ‘every line of its contents’ was composed in it. The result...
James Stuart (1764–1811–1840)
James Stuart was born in Armagh and educated at Trinity College Dublin. Much of the verse in his 1811 Poems on Various Subjects is concerned with Armagh and its surroundings, and it is valuable for the light it throws on contemporary Ulster. He subsequently edited the Newry Telegraph and the Newry Magazine, a journal containing interesting literary and...
William H. Drummond (1778–1811–1856)
William Hamilton Drummond was born in Larne, Co. Antrim and educated at the University of Glasgow. He worked as a Presbyterian minister in Belfast and Dublin, becoming a strong defender of and advocate for Unitarianism. His many sermons and pamphlets show him to have been a man of strong liberal principles and a defender of the rights of animals...
Anna Liddiard(?) (c.1785–1819–c.1820)
There must be some doubt about the authorship of this poem. Anna Wilkinson was born in County Meath around 1785. She married the Rev. William Liddiard (1773–1841), rector of Knockmark, Co. Meath, a well-known travel writer and poet. Anna published several volumes of poetry, some co-authored with her husband, which show that she had a considerable interest in and affection for Ireland. Mount Leinster was published...
Index of Titles and First Lines
Index of Authors
Publication Year: 2014
OCLC Number: 880354754
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Irish Poet and the Natural World