St. Patrick's Day

There is a poet in each of us ... or perhaps the story of our journey waiting to be told. On St. Patrick's Day let's examine famous Irish poets starting with ...

Sir Thomas Moore (May 28, 1779 - February 25, 1852) was an Irish poet, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Last Rose of Summer a poem which was set to music in the early to mid nineteenth century. It was made popular in the twenty first century in a recording by Charlotte Church and the Irish Tenors. Moore wrote the poem while at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland, and it was published in a collection of Moore's work called Irish Melodies (1807-34).

Born on the corner of Aungier Street in Dublin, Ireland over his father's grocery shop, his father being from an Irish speaking Gaeltacht in Kerry and his mother, Anastasia Codd, from Wexford. He was educated at Trinity College, which had recently allowed entry to Catholic students and studied law at the Middle Temple in London.

It was, however, as a poet, translator, balladeer and singer that he found fame. His work soon became immensely popular and included The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls, The Minstrel Boy, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms, 'The Meeting of the Waters' and many others.

Moore was far more than a balladeer, however. He had major success as a society figure in London, and in 1803 was appointed registrar to the Admiralty in Bermuda. From there, he traveled in Canada and the USA. He returned to England and married an actress, Elizabeth "Bessy" Dyke, in 1811.

Moore had expensive tastes, and, despite the large sums he was earning from his writing, soon got into debt, a situation which was exacerbated by the embezzlement of money by the man he had employed to deputise for him in Bermuda. Moore became liable for the 6000 which had been illegally appropriated. In 1819, he was forced to leave Britain -- in company with Lord John Russell -- and live in Italy until 1822, when the debt was finally paid off.

Some of this time was spent with Lord Byron, whose literary executor Moore became. He was much criticized later for allowing himself to be persuaded into destroying Byron's memoirs at the behest of Byron's family due to their damningly honest content. Moore did, however, edit and publish Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, with Notices of his Life (1830).

He finally settled in Sloperton Cottage in Wiltshire, England, and became a novelist and biographer as well as a successful poet. He received a state pension, but his personal life was dogged by tragedy including the untimely deaths of all of his five children within his lifetime and the suffering of a stroke in later life, which disabled him from performances - the activity at which he was most renowned.

Moore is considered Ireland's National Bard and is to it what Robert Burns is to Scotland. Moore is commemorated by a plaque on the house where he was born and by a large bronze statue near Trinity College Dublin

On she went, and her maiden smile,
In safety lighted her round the Green Isle;

And blest forever was she who relied upon,
Erin's honor and Erin's pride.

Sir Thomas Moore

St. Patrick's Day

Irish Poetry

List of Irish Poets

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