Greacen’s Protestant Derry Heritage
Robert Greacen was born in Derry in 1920. An only child, the young Greacen spent part of his childhood with aunts in Derry and with relations in Monaghan. He was educated at Methodist College, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin. After graduating the writer worked for the United Nations in London. He married Patricia Hutchins and worked as a school-teacher in London until his return to Dublin where he still lives.
During the 1940s Greacen was responsible for various literary magazines, among them The Northman, a literary magazine for the whole of Ulster and Northern Harvest, illustrated by Colin Middleton and containing the work of Helen Waddell, WR Rodgers, John Hewitt, John Irvine, and Maurice J Craig.
Greacen’s poetry includes One Recent Evening (1944), The Undying Day (1948), A Garland for Captain Fox (1975), Young Mr Gibbon (1979) and Carnival at The River. His Robert Greacen: Collected Poems 1944-1944 won the Irish Times Award for Literature in 1995. His autobiography, Even Without Irene, was originally published by the Dolmen Press in 1969 and was re-issued as a companion volume to his Collected Poems in 1995 by the Lagan Press. An expanded autobiography, The Sash My Father Wore, was published in 1997. His papers, mainly correspondence, are held at the University of Ulster (Special Collections).
'As every Irish schoolboy knows, or used to know, Derry/Londonderry is often referred to as the ‘Maiden City’ because of the fight for survival of the Protestant inhabitants during James II’s siege in 1689.
G.M. Trevelyan, the great historian, wrote: ‘the burghers of Londonderry endured the famous siege, facing starvation in the spirit that the citizens of Haarlem and Leyden had shown in like case against the Spaniard."' Robert Greacen, The Sash My Father Wore (1997).