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The Orchard Keeper by Susan Connolly


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Francis Ledwidge was a frequent visitor to the McGoona household at Donaghmore, near Navan, Co. Meath. Matty McGoona, an amateur naturalist and musician, became his close friend. A chance encounter with an elderly man beside the orchard at Donaghmore was the catalyst which led Susan Connolly to explore the life of Francis Ledwidge in greater depth, and to write her sequence of poems, The Orchard Keeper. Francis Ledwidge was born in Slane, Co. Meath, in 1887. He wrote poetry from an early age. He enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1914, and survived the battlefields of Gallipoli, Serbia and Arras before being killed on July 31st, 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres.
     The six poems gathered under the title Woman in a Black Hat, warmly recall the lives of close friends and family.

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