About the book…
The poetry of Padraic Gregory represents the first flowering of a modern interest in the contours, the rhythms and colours of Ulster speech. Described as '¼ a snapper-up of all folk-songs and fragments of folk-songs he could lay hold of in Co. Antrim and Co. Down', Gregory's achievement is nothing less than an imaginative rediscovery of the vibrancy of the northern vernacular, playing its part in a generously-minded Ulster revival which encompassed all forms of artistic activity in the early part of 20th century - whether vital new painters like Frank McKelvey and William Conor, dramatists like Rutherford Mayne and Harry Morrow, Herbert Hughes and Hamilton Harty in the idiom of folk-song and as well as fellow poets like Joseph Campbell and Richard Rowley. His groundbreaking The Ulster Folk (1912) was to prove an inspiration to later folk poets such as W.F. Marshall, Cathal O'Byrne, John Stevenson and John Clifford. A master of the ballad, Gregory's poems shy away from a sense of individual expression. Rather they are fragments of the collective local imagination. Yet they sing with a unique brio, displaying a confidence in local dialect as a suitable vehicle for the great themes of love, loss and mortality. While capable of humour, his poems never patronise his 'ain people' or indulge in easy sentimentality. On the contrary, the poems resonate with a peculiarly northern sense of pride and dignity. Featuring an introduction by Eamonn Hughes of Queen's University, Belfast, putting Gregory's achievement in its proper cultural context, and a preface by the poet's grandson, Patrick Gregory, Padraic Gregory: Complete Ballads, brings to general and critical attention a remarkable body of work.
Let Moore, Mangan, Davis and Ferguson
Be honoured, both now an' in comin' times;
I only ax folk for tae say o' me:
'His love o' the North folk filled all his rhymes.'
- from 'The Poor Gleaner'
Padraic [Patrick] Gregory was born in Belfast in 1886 and educated in Ireland and America. An architect by profession, he was responsible for many ecclesiastical buildings throughout Ireland. As a poet, his volumes included The Ulster Folk (1912), Old World Ballads (1913), Ulster Songs and Ballads (1920) and Complete Ulster Ballads (1959). A respected art critic, his When Painting Was In Its Glory (1941), a study of the Italian Renaissance, still remains valued by scholars. A nationalist in politics, he represented the Falls ward on Belfast City Council shortly after the Second World War.