Thomas Rollaston was born in Shinrone, County Offaly, Ireland, the son of a judge. He was educated at St Columba’s College in Dublin and at Trinity College, Dublin. He spent some time in Germany after leaving university where he must have learnt German as he later translated several of Wagner’s operas and also wrote a biography of the German playwright Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.
He founded the Dublin University Review and became the first managing director of The Irish Industries Society where he was responsible for saving several handicrafts such as glassmaking and lacemaking. In 1879 he married Edith Caroline de Burgh and they had four children. He published his first volume of poetry in 1888, Ballads of Young Ireland and later moved to London where he became a member of the Rhymers’ Club and a founder member of the Irish Literary Society. He and W B Yeats were apparently bitter enemies.
In 1897 he married his second wife Maud Henrietta Brooke with whom he had a further four children. He worked as a journalist and civil servant involved with agriculture whilst continuing to write both poetry and prose. He published a wide range of literary and political topics and his prose works include Sayings of Epictetus, Ireland and Poland: A Comparison, The Irish Invasion Myths, The High Deeds of Finn MacCumhail and Celtic Myths and Legends, the latter having been described as the best representation and description of all the legends, myths and spiritual history of all Celtic peoples of Ireland, Britain and Wales.
In 1908 he settled finally in Hampstead where he died in 1920, aged 63. Most of his poems have Irish themes such as The Grave of Rury and the beautiful Cois Na Teineadh (By the Fireside).