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William Allingham Arts Festival - Ballyshannon, Co Donegal

7th – 10th November 2013
The 3rd William Allingham Arts Festival incorporates workshops, Exhibitions, Concerts, Competitions, an Art Trial, Poetry, Music, Design & Drama.  For information on the full programme, link to http://allinghamartsassociation.com/festival-2013-programme
William Allingham, the poet, was born in Ballyshannon in 1824 in a house on The Mall which bears a plaque to his memory.  William had a good ear for music and picked up tunes from his nurses and his neighbours. His interest in literature , the young William attended Wray’s School on Church Lane, adjacent to St. Anne’s Church, where the only subject on the curriculum was Latin!!  At the age of 14 his father found him a post in the Provincial Bank at Ballyshannon. The building now houses the Allied Irish Bank and visitors can see and read the following lines written by the young banker and poet about one hundred and seventy years ago. There is also a bust of the poet on display in the bank.
 
This name's duration shall surpass
The hand that wrote it on the glass.
 
In 1850 the first book of his poetry was published entitled, Poems, which included, The Fairies and The Goblin Child of Ballyshannon and was dedicated to his literary friend Leigh Hunt. Four years later he published a second book, Day and Night Songs, followed in 1855 by, The Music Master. He moved to London where his most important poem of nearly 5,000 lines, Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland, was published in 1863.
 
The year 1874 was a significant year for William Allingham, as he was offered the editorship of Fraser's Magazine. He also married Helen Patterson in London, on the 22nd August. Helen's career as an artist blossomed in 1874 when two of her paintings, The Milkmaid and Wait for Me, were accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. She achieved the rare honour for a woman of becoming an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society. Helen and William Allingham had a very supportive relationship and shared a wide circle of literary and artistic friends. In 1888 they moved to Hampstead but William's health deteriorated. He died peacefully about 2 o'clock on Monday 18th November. At his own request he was cremated at Woking. A few friends and relations were present. Mr. F.G. Stephens, the oldest of his friends there gathered together, read aloud Allingham's own Poet's Epitaph.
 
Body to purifying flame,
Soul to the Great Deep whence it came,
Leaving a song on earth below,
An urn of ashes white as snow.
 
William Allingham's ashes were interred at St. Anne's Church on Mullaghnashee in his native Ballyshannon with the following simple inscription on his gravestone.
 
William Allingham, Poet, born at Ballyshannon
March 19 1824. Died in London, November 1889.
 
William Allingham Remembered in his Native Town
 
Adieu to Ballyshanny! Where I was bred and born;
Go where I may, I’ll think of you as sure as night and morn.
The kindly spot, the friendly town, where every one is known,
And not a face in all the place but partly seems my own;
There’s not a house or window, there’s not a field or hill,
But, east or west, in foreign lands, I’ll recollect them still.
I leave my warm heart with you, though my back I’m forced turn-
So adieu to Ballyshanny and the winding banks of Erne!”
 

 

 
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