Michael Francis O'Reilly
William Carleton (1794 - 1869):
William Carleton was born in Prillisk near Clogher, County Tyrone, into a family which spoke both Irish and English. The youngest of fourteen children, he attended a hedge school and a school in Donagh, County Monaghan. It is said that he was drawn to the priesthood, but converted to Protestantism when he married. After a motley series of occupations which varied from tutoring to taxidermy and an attempt to join the army, he was befriended by the Rev. Caesar Otway, who encouraged him to write. The Christian Examiner printed his story The Lough Derg Pilgrimage, and this confirmed him in his choice of career. This was followed by Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry in five volumes; Fardarougha the Miser (1839); The Black Prophet, a story of the Famine; and The Tithe Proctor. He was a prolific writer and 'farmed his talents as he might have farmed his fields if he had had any, putting in the crop that suited the market'. Towards the end of his life he received a Civil List pension of £200 a year.He returned once to the Clogher Valley during the Famine in 1847. He died in Dublin and is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery.
The William Carleton Society each year organises the William Carleton International Summer School; in and around Clogher.
Biographies by O'Donoghue; and by Benedict Kiely: Poor Scholar, 1947
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