Sligo Newspaper Poems - Sligo Poets

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Sligo Newspaper Poems 1915

Poetry was a genuinely popular cultural form at this time and during the Great War played a more significant role in the war effort than articles and pamphlets. The poetry published in the Sligo newspapers especially in 1915 reflected that.

At the outbreak of the Great War there was a massive increase in the writing and publishing of patriotic verse.  Newspapers all over the United Kingdom printed patriotic poems by amateur poets. Most were written in high diction and were full of na├»ve patriotic sentiments, lofty phrases and archaic vocabulary.

This advertisement was published regularly in the Sligo Nationalist during 1915

Many of the recognised and admired poets also contributed poems which supported the war effort and encouraged its continuation. Some of these were members of secret organization of eminent writers working with the War Propaganda Office at Wellington House, London.

In 1914 and 1915 encouraging enlistment was a key aim of much of this propaganda. Conscription had not yet been introduced and more soldiers were badly needed by the British army.

poetry celebrated the war in styles from the stridently jingoistic to the accepting of death in battle as the price of a worthy cause. It represented the prevailing view of the war, that while the destruction and death was appalling, it was in a great cause and the war effort should continue.

The poetry published in the three Sligo local newspapers in 1915 reflect the prevailing mood in the United Kingdom but there are local influences. The first thing to notice is the increase in the number of poems published in 1915. The Sligo Champion published 47 as against 19 in 1914 and the corresponding figures for the Sligo Nationalist are 39 and 26, and the Sligo Independent 26 and 8.

In the case of the two nationalist newspapers, Champion and Nationalist, roughly half of the poems published related to the war but all but two of those published the unionist Sligo Independent were war-related.

All three papers reprinted poems from British newspapers but the Independent carried many more of these than the others. Poems by Owen Seaman, Lilian Leveridge, Duncan Tovey, Harold Vesey Damer and Harold Begbie were the usual fare in this newspaper and there were only a couple of local writers included.

While the pro-war and pro-recruiting tone of the poetry published in the other two newspaper was similar the authors were more likely to be Irish and the topic more likely to have an Irish connection. Poems by local MP, John O'Dowd and well-known local poet, M.J. Kearns were included in the Sligo Champion.

Poems relating the exploits of regiments like the Connaught Rangers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were included and references were made to Home Rule and to John Redmond, the Irish Parliamentary Party leader.

The Sligo Nationalist also published poems which mourned the lot of wives and girlfriends left behind by soldiers in work by Louie Stockdale and J G Quilty.

The Sligo Champion and Sligo Nationalist continued to publish what had been their usual poetic fare, topographic poems in praise of local scenic areas, comments on local developments and events, laments for the dead and poetry offering moral guidance.

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