[Mrs] Florence Mary Wilson

Life
?1870-1946 [Florence M. Wilson]; b. Lisburn, Co. Antrim; m. solicitor in Bangor [d.1915], residing at Groomsport Rd.; contrib. Irish Homestead, Northern Whig, and other papers; associate of Alice Milligan and A. S. Green; latter years at 101 Groomsport Rd [?Warrenpoint].; author of ballad, “The Man from God Knows Where” (1918) [on Thomas Russell]; issued a collection as The Coming of the Earls (1918) which ran into several editions and was popular in America; had six children. PI DUB DIL2

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Works
The Coming of the Earls, and Other Verse
[Poetry Booklets No. 4] (Dublin: The Candle Press 1918) [“The Man from God Knows Where”, pp.9-12].

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Criticism
‘Roddy the Rover’ [Aodh de Blacam], ‘“The Man from God Knows Where” by Mrs Florence Wilson and circumstances of its composition’, a cutting [s.n.; q.d.] slipped into Hayes, ed., Irish Ballads, in the Univ. of Ulster Library (Morris Collection).

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Quotations
The Man from God Knows Where”: ‘In our townlan’ on a night of snow, / Rode a man from God-knows-where; / None of us bade him stay or go, / Nor deemed him friend nor damned him foe, / But we stabled his big roan mare: / For in our townlan’ we’re decent folk, / And if he didn’t speak, why none of us spoke, / And we sat till the fire burnt low.’ [Succeeding stanzas describe the events of the Trouble Year’ and ‘the time of the Hurry’. The narrator goes to Newtown fair and hears news of a further rising and help from ‘Boney’:] ‘But no French ships sailed into Cloughey Bay / And we heard the black news on a harvest day / That the cause was lost again / And Joey and me and Wully Boy Scott, / We agreed to ourselves we’d as lief as not / Ha’ been found in the thick o’ the slain. // ‘By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare / On a day I’ll remember, feth; / For when I came to the prison square / The people were waitin’ in hundreds there, / An’ you wouldn’t hear stir nor breath! / For the sodgers were standin’ grim an’ tall, / Round a scaffold built there fornent the wall / An’ a man stepped out for death!’ // I was brave and near to the end of the throng, / Yet I knowed the face again, / An’ the sound of his strange up-country talk, / For he spoke out right an’ plain. / Then he bowed his head to the swinging rope, / Whiles I said “please God” to his dying hope / And “Amen” to his dying prayer / that the Wrong would cease, and the Right prevail; / For the man that they hanged at Downpatrick Gaol / Was the man from God-Knows-Where!’ (Note, the Downpatrick verse is quoted - or ‘misquoted’ from memory by Benedict Kiely in Drink to the Bird, 1991, p.33 [autobiog.], giving feth, as above, but soldiers for sodgers, &c..) [See fuller version under Thomas Russell, infra.]

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912),, Florence M. Wilson; briefly noticed as a lady who has written admirable verse in T.P.’s Weekly; Irish Homestead; Northern Whig; Ulster Guardian, et al. NOTE, Short note appears in Supplement to The Bell, Sept. 1993, John Metcalf, ‘North Down’s Literary Associations’.] NOTE, maiden name apparently unknown. Also contrib. Irish Review (Nov. 1911);

Belfast Central Public Library holds The Coming of the Earls and Other Verse (Dublin: Three Candles P. 1918), 23pp.

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Notes
Sean O’Casey [as P Ó Cathasaigh], Story of the Citizen Army (1919), Chap. 1, epigraph quotes “The Man from God Knows Where” [‘The people were waitin’ in thousands there, / An’ you couldn’t hear stir nor breath.’]

Benedict Kiely writes: ‘Perhaps it was the memory, lingering over five or six years, of my vast popular success as an orator, and friend and interpreter of the Man from God Knows Where, that caused F. J. Nugent, the director of the town-players, to bend his casting eye on me.’ (Drink to the Bird, London: Methuen 1991, p.159.)

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