Although born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in 1925, the poet Francis Harvey grew up in Co. Donegal. Following the death of his father in 1931, his Ballyshannon born mother moved the family to the ancestral home on the banks of the Erne, the place where his grandfather had farmed. Francis published his first poem in the “Irish Weekly Independent” (where Patrick Kavanagh first published a poem). He wrote radio plays initially and shared first prize in 1958 with a play entitled “Farewell to Every White Cascade”.
Among the many awards that Francis Harvey received, one of the first was the prestigous Irish Times/Yeats Summer School prize for poetry in 1977. Also a gifted playwright, in 1970 his play, 'They feed Christians to Lions Here, Don't They?', was produced in the Peacock Theatre, Dublin and in Milwaukee, USA. A public reading of his play 'Looking at Benbulben' was rehearsed in the Peacock, followed with a production in 2002 by the Balor Theatre, Ballybofey and going on to play in Ballyshannon and Donegal Town as part of the Bluestack Festival.
His first collection of poetry, 'In the Light of Stones' was published by Gallery Press in 1978. This was followed by 'The Boa Island Janus' in 1996 and 'Making Space and Selected Poems' in 2001, both published by Dedalus Press. 2007 saw the publication by Dedalus of his 'Collected Poems'. Alongside his work as a poet, Francis Harvey published short stories, regularly appearing in leading literary magazines at home and abroad.
The landscape of Donegal has been a powerful force in motivating a large part of Harvey’s poetry. In fact he is on record as saying that he wouldn’t have been a poet at all but for the influence of the Donegal landscape and its people. He was always intensely interested in natural history and in this respect was the first person to record the presence of the pine marten in County Donegal. He spent a lot of his time in this county climbing the mountains and investigating its flora and fauna.
Francis Harvey was a member of Aosdána, a measure of how highly he is regarded by his peers.