Orr, James

(1770-1816)
   "The Poet of Ballycarry" was born at Ferranshane, County Antrim, Ireland, the son of a weaver. Orr became one of the Rhyming Weavers of Ulster, who wrote in the Ulster Scot dialect-inspired by Robert Burns - and who published their work mainly in the local newspapers. He joined the United Irishmen, formed in 1791 by a group of Protestants, inspired by the French Revolution, whose aim was equal rights for Catholics and Protestants alike. The '98 rebellion was a mass protest for democratic rights and against English rule in Ireland. After the battle of Antrim on 7 June 1798, in which the United Irishmen took part, Orr escaped to America, and while there wrote for the press. Back in Ireland he published by subscription Poems on Various Subjects (1804). He took to drink, died at Ballycarry, and was buried in Templecorran churchyard, where a public monument was erected over his grave. Four of his poems remain firm favorites: "The Irishman"; "The Execution" (which memorializes the hanging of his brother William, in 1797, on a trumped-up charge of sedition); "The Hill at Donegore," "The Irish Cottier's Death and Burial."
   Sources: BBC - History -The 1798 Irish Rebellion (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/state/nations/irish_reb_02.shtml). BBC - History - United Irishmen - up to 1798 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/timelines/ni/united_irishmen.shtml). Biography of James Orr (http://www.ullans. com/culture/JamesOrr.shtml). Country Rhymes of James Orr: The Bard of Ballycarry. Pretani Press, 1992. Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition, 1.1. Rabbie Burns, The Weaver Poets. James Orr. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/winter/rabbie/weaver1.shtml).

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

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