The Life and Works of Frances Browne
For many years there was little known about Frances Browne, ‘The Blind Poetess of Ulster’. She was a novelist, journalist and poetess of the highest quality, and she was born in the Twin Towns in 1816. I only became aware of this talented writer around 1980. This was the result of enquiries to the local post office in Ballybofey, by students requesting information about her life and works. I knew that there was a plaque erected to her memory at a site in Stranorlar, but there was very little information known locally about the poetess. Research at that time resulted in the publication of an article in the ‘Donegal Annual’ in 1981.
There was never a major study undertaken or a work undertaken on the life of this remarkable woman, and it is only recently as a result of this continued research along with fellow researcher, the Rev. Raymond Blair, that a number of new and exciting discoveries have been made in relation to Frances Browne.
I felt that we could do more to promote one of our brightest students of the past, so that our children would know that there was a little girl in the village many years ago, who despite her disadvantages, went on to achieve so much in life. In a time when there were no cars, trains, electricity, TV or radio, this little girl also played around the streets of Stranorlar, as our children do today. The loss of sight did not stop her determination to get an education, and go on to become one of the best poets this country has ever produced.
History is an important part of our past, as it teaches us about our successes and failures. The story about the life and works of Frances Browne is one of those successes that we are proud to record in the annals of our local history.
The above foreword by Patrick Bonar is extracted from his recently published book,
The Life and Works of Frances Browne: Novelist, Journalist and Poetess (1816-1879)
Priced €18 (including postage), this book is a must-have for anyone interested in the life and times of this remarkable woman, or indeed, for anyone interested in the local social history of the period.
Application to: Bonar Publishing, PO Box 100, Ballybofey PO, Co. Donegal, Ireland