Mary Dora Sigerson Shorter 1866-1918

Mary Dora Sigerson was born in Dublin, the eldest child of George Sigerson, a surgeon and Gaelic scholar and his wife Hester, a poet and novelist. They were well-known in Dublin’s cultural circles and their home was a gathering place for artists and writers. Dora attended the Dublin School of Art, where W B Yeats was a fellow pupil, and started to write poetry as a teenager, having her first collection of poetry, Verses, published in 1893.

Dora got married in 1896 and to the English journalist and literary critic Clement King Shorter. They moved to London and, although their marriage was a happy one, Dora, as a fervent patriot, missed Ireland badly and sought solace in her writing and gardening at their Buckinghamshire Country house. She also took up painting and sculpting.

Over the course of her career she published two novels and twenty collections of poetry, the most important being The Fairy Changeling and Other Poems (1898), Collected Poems (1907) and Love of Ireland: Poems and Ballads (1916). A further collection, incorporating some of her earlier poems, was published posthumously in 1919. She is justly ranked among the great Irish poets and her work reflects her passionate nature, her love of the countryside, her patriotism, and her love of Irish myth and legend.

Dora was profoundly affected by the events of the 1916 Easter Rising and deeply saddened by the subsequent executions which she commemorated in the poem Sixteen Dead Men. She was instrumental in the construction of a sculpture in honour of them which was erected in Glasnevin, Ireland’s first Catholic cemetery in Dublin, where she herself is buried along with many prominent Irish heroes including Daniel O’Connell, Eamon de Valera, and W B Yeats. She died in 1918 having suffered a period of ill health, exacerbated, according to her husband, by her grief over the tragedy of the Easter Rising.

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