Herbison, David

(1800-1880)
   The "Bard of Dunclug" was born at Ballymena in County Antrim, where his father was an innkeeper. Blind for four years as a child, his education was scant, and at fourteen, he started learning linen weaving. In 1827, after his father died, he and his elder brother sailed for Canada and escaped a shipwreck in the St. Lawrence. The Quebec climate didn't suit David so he returned to Ireland in 1830 to resume his trade and his earlier interest in poetry. He was soon having his poems published in the Belfast and Dublin newspapers. He became the most famous of the "weaver poets" of Ireland-artisans, independent thinkers, very often self-employed, chiefly in the linen weaving industry, who published their poems in newspapers and in books which were paid for by subscription. He died in his cottage at Dunclug, near Ballymena, and a monument to his memory was erected by public subscription. Some of his publications: The Fate of McQuillan and O'Neill's Daughter, a Legend of Dunluce, with Other Poems, 1841. Midnight Musings, 1848. Woodland Wanderings, 1858. The Snow-Wreath, 1869. The Children of the Year, 1876.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Dunluce Castle Website, County Antrim, Ireland (http://www.northantrim.com/dunlucecastle.htm). BBC, Northern Ireland Learning: Weaver Poets: The Bard of Dunclug (http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/schools/4_11/today/english/spr2000/index.shtml).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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