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18 June 2014
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Myths and Legends
William McGonagall
© Dundee Central Library
William McGonagall: Scotland's Other National Bard

McGonagall, born in Edinburgh to Irish parents but raised and apprenticed to a hand-loom weaver in Dundee, is widely regarded as the worst poet ever to disgrace the English language – but if that really is the case, then why does his memory live on, some 100 years after his death?

The answer to this lies not in his poetry, but the spirit and endeavour which he brought to his vocation, as is demonstrated in the incredible story of his life.

William McGonagall
© SCRAN
McGonagall was born and died - some 77 years later – in Edinburgh, but it is the city of Dundee that he’s most associated with, so much so that the local newspaper, The Dundee Courier, bestowed the title of ‘Poet Laureate of the Silvery Tay’ upon him in their sombre obituary following his death in 1902.

This demonstrates the affection towards him in the City of Discovery, an affection not borne from a liking for his work – but an admiration for the sheer cheek of a man who truly believed his awful poems were second only to the great William Shakespeare.


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