Friday, 18 November 2016

Ten Interesting Local Memories of William Allingham, the Ballyshannon Poet, on this day 18th November

William Allingham’s Final Journey to Ballyshannon

1.       On the 17th November 1889 in his home at Eldon Road in Hampshire, England,  as he was in a weak condition, William Allingham,  was asked if he had any request to make, he replied:  “No, my mind is at rest”. Then to his wife he said:  “And so, to where I wait, come gently on”.  Once on the morning of his death he said; “I am seeing things that you know nothing of”. He died peacefully about 2 o’clock on Monday 18th November.

2.   At his own request he was cremated at Woking. A few friends and relations were present. There was no funeral service. 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.

3.    Two years later, in 1891, Helen Allingham brought the children to visit their father’s grave at St. Anne’s Church in Ballyshannon and also to meet their Irish relations. Helen was busy painting on her trip to Donegal and was later to exhibit thirteen paintings from her Ballyshannon visit.

Remembering William Allingham

4..    Helen believed that her husband’s work was superior to her own and she tried hard to gain for him the recognition she thought he was owed. In the years following his death, she rearranged, edited and published all his writings in an effort to keep his name alive. Helen Allingham died on the 28th September 1926.

5.      Their oldest child Gerard Carlyle (1875-1961) was a chartered electrical engineer, their daughter Eva born in 1877 was to suffer from ill health during her lifetime and their youngest son, Henry William (1882-1960) was also an engineer and company director.

6.     In 1968 a William Allingham Association was formed in Ballyshannon by a group of young people, to promote the poet’s memory. They were responsible, for having the new road, leading from the bridge towards Belleek, named Allingham Road.    In 1971 a bronze bust of the poet was unveiled at the Provincial Bank (now the Allied Irish Bank), where both William Allingham (Senior), William Allingham (Junior) and Hugh Allingham had all worked. In 1978 the Allingham Society was formed and successfully perpetuated his memory by organising a literary week-end with poetry competitions for students and adults.

7.     In 2007 the Fair Green in the town was converted into a park and named Allingham Park. Recently a fairy garden was opened in Allingham Park by Foróige commemorating William Allingham’s famous poem called “The Fairies”

8.    In the Abbey Centre an exhibition area has been named the Helen Allingham Gallery. In Bundoran Allingham Lodge was owned by Florinda Allingham, a member of the Ballyshannon family, and today is called The Allingham Arms Hotel and has verses of the poet and prints of  Helen Allingham on display. The plaque on the bridge, erected by townspeople in 1895, in memory of the Bard of Ballyshannon, recalls his early life in the town which he never really left.

Here once he roved a happy boy
Along the winding banks of Erne
And now please God with finer joy
A fairer world his eyes discern.

9..     The Allingham Arts Society continue to run a successful Allingham Arts Festival every November in memory of William and Helen Allingham.
10.   The painting on the cover of my book below “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History” is by William’s cousin, Maud Allingham, the last of the family to live in Ballyshannon.

If ever I’m a money’d man, I mean, please God, to cast
My golden anchor in the place where youthful years were pass’d;
Though heads that now are black and brown must meanwhile gather gray,
New faces rise by every hearth, and old ones drop away-
Yet dearer still that Irish hill than all the world beside;
It’s home, sweet home, where’er I roam through lands and waters wide.
And if the Lord allows me, I surely will return
To my native Belashanny and the winding banks of Erne
                                                                                         "The  Winding Banks of Erne"
                                                                                                                          By William Allingham

Local History book available in Local Shops or for Postal Delivery. Ideal Christmas Gift.

"Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available tp 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


  1. It is great to see him finally getting recognition as so many places make more of lesser individuals, well done Allingham Arts Festival Committee and yourself Anthony

  2. Thanks Molly it's important to keep the memories alive and you do so by sharing the blogs I write.