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Patrick McGill Biography

(1891–1963), Songs of a Navvy, Songs of the Dead End, The Amateur Army

irish scotland served songs

Irish poet and novelist, born in Glenties, Co. Donegal; he left school at the age of 12 to work locally as a farm labourer, and emigrated to Scotland when he was 14, where he worked as a potato picker and a navvy. Writing from his own experience, McGill became the voice of the Irish immigrant worker. His early collections of poetry, Songs of a Navvy (1911) and Songs of the Dead End (1912), are reflections on the hard life that the Irish in Scotland were forced to live. The First World War served to deepen his sense of outrage and strengthened his resolve to speak out for those who had been wasted for the sake of a society from which they had been excluded. During the war, McGill served with the London Irish Rifles and recounted his experiences in The Amateur Army (1915). His most memorable works are five novels, Children of the Dead End (1914), The Rat Pit (1915), Glenmoran (1919), The Glen of Carra (1934), and Helen Spenser (1937), in which he employed his experiences of Donegal and Scotland to write angry and uncompromising narratives of social protest.

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