The Irish poet Thomas Caulfield Irwin, born in 1823, is largely forgotten. He was born in Warrenpoint in County Down, Ireland, the son of a doctor; his family were very wealthy and it seems he was one of those young gentlemen who completed their education by travelling on the continent with a private tutor, and he even went as far as Africa. However, his family fell on hard times when he was in his twenties and he became a writer, translator and poet to support himself. Irwin seems to have had mental health problems, and has been described as ‘eccentric’; he apparently thought a neighbour was spying on him through the brick walls of his house and threatened to shoot him! He died in 1892 and is buried in Dublin.
Irwin was greatly influenced by English poets such as Keats and Tennyson and his poetry has been called lush and descriptive… here is one of Irwin’s sonnet:
A roadside inn this summer
A roadside inn this summer Saturday:–
The doors are open to the wide warm air,
The parlour, whose old window views the bay,
Garnished with cracked delph full of flowers fair
From the fields round, and whence you see the glare
Fall heavy on the hot slate roofs and o’er
The wall’s tree shadows drooping in the sun.
Now rumbles slowly down the dusty street
The lazy drover’s clattering cart; and crows
Fainter through afternoon the cock; with hoes
Tan-faced harvest folk trudge in the heat:
The neighbours at their shady doors swept clean,
Gossip, and with cool eve fresh scents of wheat,
Grasses and leaves, come from the meadows green.