Raftery, Anthony

(1784-1835)
(Ó Reachtabhra, Antoine)
   The son of a weaver from County Mayo, Ireland, he is often called the last of the wandering bards. An attack of smallpox at the age of five left him blind, and he earned his living by playing the fiddle and performing his songs and poems in the big houses of the West of Ireland. It is conjectured that he got his education from the "hedge schools," where he would have learned Irish, and from listening to the dinner time conversation and debate of visitors of the big houses. He died near Loughrea, County Galway, and in August 1900 a memorial stone was placed on his burial place by Lady Gregory who, with Thady Conlon, collected his poems and translated them into English around the turn of the 20th century. Most of his recitations were ballads describing real or imaginary events. Some of his poems: "Am Raftery (or Raferty)," "His Lament for O'Daly," "His Lament for O'Kelly," "His Repentance," "His Vision of Death," "I am Raifteiri, the poet, full of courage and love," "Raftery's Praise of Mary Hynes," "The County Mayo," "The Lass from Bally-naLee."
   Sources: An Antholog y of Irish Literature. David H. Greene, ed. H. Modern Library, 1954. Anthony Raftery, Last of the Wandering Bards (http://www.galwayonline.ie/history/history2/rafter.htm). Biography of Anthony Rafterty (http://www.cillaodain.ie/raftery.html). Kings, Lords, and Commons. Frank O'Connor, ed. Knopf, 1959. The Book of Irish Verse: An Anthology of Irish Poetry from the Sixth Century to the Present. John Montague, ed. Macmillan, 1974. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Kiltartan Poetry Book by Lady Gregory. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1919 (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/gregory/poetry/poetry.html). The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse. Thomas Kinsella, ed. Oxford University Press, 1986. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia).

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

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