Irish-Canadian journalist and poet to be commemorated in his native country
The town of Sligo will host a 3-week commemoration August 2018 to celebrate the life and work of the Sligo poet, Michael A. Hargadon (1888-1968) and to mark the anniversaries of his birth and death. Born into a farming family in the townland of Colgagh, Calry, two miles east of Sligo town, Hargadon went on to become an accomplished journalist, athlete, author and poet. Often referred to as Sligo’s forgotten poet, Michael Hargadon is perhaps better known in his adopted Canada than in his native country.
After receiving his early education at Calry National School and the Marist Schools in Sligo, Hargadon trained as a journalist in Dublin and then worked as a journalist for seven years with two Irish newspapers - the Kilkenny People and the Carlow Nationalist - before immigrating to Canada in 1915. Inspired by the beauty of his native county, he had published three collections of poems: A Wreath of Song, Two Yew Treesand the critically acclaimed A Lovely Home, before emigrating from Ireland.
After arriving in Canada, he worked as a journalist for the Montreal Daily Star. Towards the end of 1915 a campaign was launched in Canada to aid the families of soldiers who had gone to fight against Germany in World War I. Hargadon wrote an inspirational poem entitled To Those They Left Behind to solicit help from the public for this worthy cause. In 1921 he was a founding member of the Canadian Authors Association.
Hargadon left the Montreal Daily Star and joined Canadian Pacific (Shipping Line and Railway company) as their Publicity Officer, a role that took him across Canada where he got inspiration for many poems about the scenic beauty of his adopted country. He published his fourth collection Irish and Canadian Poems in 1921 followed by Among the Mountains in 1925. Both collections applaud the scenic beauty of such places as Banff, Lake Louise and the Three Sisters peaks. Among the Mountains contains beautiful colour illustrations by the noted Canadian war artist Charles Walter Simpson. In 1930, Hargadon and his family briefly relocated to Santa Monica, California where he published Sweethearts and Things. He continued to write up to the time of his death in January 1968 and has left behind a significant legacy of unpublished works.
Calry Local History Society, in collaboration with the Friends of Michael Hargadon group has formulated an extensive commemorative programme which runs from 6 – 26 August 2018 with events being held at several venues in Sligo town and the Calry area.
Welcoming the commemoration, Cllr Seamus Kilgannon, Cathaoirleach (Chair) of Sligo County Council and Chair of Sligo Heritage Group, stated: “The preservation of our culture and heritage for future generations is of paramount importance and we should never forget the contribution made by those who have gone before us. It is our duty to remember them. The celebration of the life and works of Michael Hargadon is a valuable contribution towards preserving Sligo’s heritage.”
Mayor of Sligo, Cllr Hubert Keaney added “the Michael Hargadon commemoration not only focusses attention on celebrating the life of this important Sligoman but also raises awareness of the contribution that he made both to his native county and his adopted country. We extend a warm welcome to all visitors coming to Sligo this August and hope that cultural links between Ireland and Canada will be strengthened.”
An exhibition on Michael Hargadon will be on display at Sligo City Hall throughout August. Daily poetry readings will be held at Sligo’s iconic pub, Hargadon Bros. Sligo County Council has approved the naming of a road in honour of the poet at a location close to his place of birth.
Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers ONB SC, will be visiting Sligo on Wednesday 8 August to unveil an historic plaque at the birthplace of Michael Hargadon and participate in other events taking place that day. “I am delighted to participate in the events taking place in Sligo to honour this son of Ireland and adopted son of Canada”, said Ambassador Vickers.
Other events in the commemoration programme include a public lecture, the launching of the Michael Hargadon website, a radio documentary, a Hargadon family reunion, a graveyard remembrance, a boat trip and a number of social events.
Brian Hargadon, the only surviving son of the poet, will travel with his family from Canada for the commemoration. Speaking from his home in Ottawa, he said “I am deeply honoured that my father is being celebrated in his native Sligo. Although he spent the greater part of his life in Canada, he never lost touch with his beloved place of birth in the parish of Calry, Sligo and always longed to retire there. The Hargadon family is very grateful to all the people in Calry and Sligo engaged in planning and organizing this commemoration.”
A large contingent of descendants of Michael Hargadon from Canada, the USA, the UK and relatives from across Ireland will also be travelling to Sligo this August. The commemoration also presents an opportunity to strengthen Hargadon-McLoughlin ties as Hargadon’s mother was Mary McLoughlin from Ballure, Calry.
Chair of Calry Local History Society, Gerard Cunningham, stated that “the commemoration of Michael Hargadon this year is a major project of the Society but a very worthy one and long overdue. Ireland is about halfway through the Decade of Centenary Commemorations so now is an appropriate time to commemorate Michael Hargadon in his county of birth.”
Further details are available on the commemoration website: http://www.michaelahargadon.com/