Monday, 26 September 2016

10 Interesting Things about Helen Allingham and her Connections to Ballyshannon

1.      Helen Allingham (nee Paterson) married Ballyshannon poet William Allingham on 22nd August 1874 in London. He was 50 and she was 25 years of age.
2.      Helen was an English born watercolour painter and illustrator who illustrated Thomas Hardy’s famous novel “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
3.      The Allingham’s had 3 children- Gerard (b.1875), Eva (b.1877) and Henry (b. 1882)
Gerard and Eva Allingham receiving lessons in a painting by their mother Helen Allingham 

4.      A year after William’s death in 1889 Helen became the first woman artist to become a full member of The Royal Watercolour Society in England.
5.      On his deathbed William spoke to his wife and said: “And so, to where I wait, come gently on”.
6.      In 1891 Helen brought her children to Ballyshannon to visit the grave of their father William at St. Anne’s Church in the town.
7.      On her visit Helen painted 13 paintings of local scenes including Catsby cave in the Abbey, cottages and the Fairy bridges in Bundoran.
The fairy bridges Bundoran by Helen Allingham

8.      To the best of my knowledge none of her paintings have been seen in Ballyshannon in living memory. A cousin of her husband, Maud Allingham, was a prolific painter of local scenes and her painting of Ballyshannon is on the cover of my book “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History”.

9.      Helen kept alive her husband’s poetry and his memory, by ensuring that all his works were published after his death including his Diary. Helen died 90 years ago on 28th September 1926

10.  In the Abbey Centre Ballyshannon an exhibition area has been named the Helen Allingham Gallery and across from the Abbey Centre her husband is remembered at Allingham Park. 

Dates for your diary Friday November 4th in Imperial Hotel Ballyshannon
“Local Memories of World War One and the Battle of the Somme” An illustrated talk by Anthony Begley, local historian, will reveal new research on how Ballyshannon people were involved in the War. The talk will include letters, correspondence, songs, images and poetry from  local participants in World War One. This talk is in memory of Kathleen and Louis Emerson, of County Donegal Historical Society, The event is run in association  with the Allingham Festival.

The Allingham Arts Festival 3rd-6th November in Ballyshannon check for details.

Local History book available in Local Shops or for Postal Delivery

"Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available to purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, O'Neills, Clearys and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact

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