"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."
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 €25 (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.
Bonar Publishing, PO Box 100, Ballybofey
PO, Co. Donegal, Ireland