Ferguson, Sir Samuel

FERGUSON, SIR SAMUEL (1810-1886), Irish poet and antiquary, was born at Belfast, on the 10th of March 1810. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, was called to the Irish bar in 1838, and was made Q.C. in 1859, but in 1867 retired from practice upon his appointment as deputy-keeper of the Irish records, then in a much neglected condition. He was an excellent civil servant, and was knighted in 1878 for his services to the department. His spare time was given to general literature, and in particular to poetry. He had long been a leading contributor to the Dublin University Magazine and to Blackwood, where he had published his two literary masterpieces, "The Forging of the Anchor," one of the finest of modern ballads, and the humorous prose extravaganza of "Father Tom and the Pope." He published Lays of the Western Gael in 1865, Poems in 1880, and in 1872 Congal, a metrical narrative of the heroic age of Ireland, and, though far from ideal perfection, perhaps the most successful attempt yet made by a modern Irish poet to revivify the spirit of the past in a poem of epic proportions. Lyrics have succeeded better in other hands; many of Ferguson's pieces on modern themes, notably his "Lament for Thomas Davis" (1845), are, nevertheless, excellent. He was an extensive contributor on antiquarian subjects to the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, and was elected its president in 1882. His manners were delightful, and his hospitality was boundless. He died at Howth on the 9th of August 1886. His most important antiquarian work, Ogham Inscriptions in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, was published in the year after his death.

See Sir Samuel Ferguson in the Ireland of his Day (1896), by his wife, Mary C. Ferguson; also an article by A.P. Graves in A Treasury of Irish Poetry in the English Tongue (1900), edited by Stopford Brooke and T.W. Rolleston.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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