Poet of the People
Denis Smyth Privately published.
DENIS SMYTH is a superb local historian. He edits Lurigethan,
the magazine of the North Belfast History Workshop and has produced numerous
historical and literary journals and pamphlets. His latest production is a
biographical sketch of Thomas Carnduff, the once famous 'Shipyard Poet' of
Carnduff was born in the Sandy Row district in 1886. He joined the Young Citizen
Volunteers at the time of the Home Rule Crisis and later served on the Western
Front in the Great War. Carnduff was a member of the Independent Orange Order
which 90 years ago was a radical alternative to the official Order rather than
the Paisleyite front it is today.
After the Great War, Carnduff found employment in Workman Clark's shipyard. It
war hen that he began his writing. This shipyard finally closed in 1936. His
poetry and playa give a great insight into the lives of industrial workers and
everyday social life In the thirties, forties and early fifties. Carnduff later
became the librarian of the Linenhall Library but ha never lost his common
touch. His literature was not aimed at the so-called intelligentsia but at
Smyth's book is a labour of love, He genuinely admires his subject and the book
bubbles with his enthusiasts, marred only by his suggestion that opposition to
Irish nationalism is reactionary and his clumsy attempt to brand Edward Carson
as Europe's first fascist! I attribute this to Smyth's romantic brand of
This fine book is interspersed with same of Carnduff's verse and is complemented
with a comprehensive bibliography of all of his writings. 1 hope that this will
encourage some local publisher to reissue some of his works soon.