Wesley Greenhill Lyttle

Writer and Entertainer

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Wesley Greenhill Lyttle is thought to have been born near Newtownards, County Down, in 1844.

An accountant, a teacher of shorthand and an elocutionist, Lyttle was above all an entertainer, often in the guise of his alter-ego “Robin”, a jovial country farmer who regaled his audiences in Ulster-Scots. Lyttle had been a lecturer in Dr Corry’s Irish Diorama Company, which toured Britain and America with a show entitled Ireland, its scenery, music and antiquities. For most of the 1870s he lived in Belfast where he began to write and perform his humorous monologues. In 1880 he established the North Down Herald in Newtownards. In 1883 Lyttle moved the newspaper to Bangor and added the additional title of Bangor Gazette.

Lyttle was the author of a great many poems and sketches in Ulster-Scots. His humorous monologues, recited in the speech of an Ards farmer, were reproduced in his newspaper and subsequently published as Robin’s Readings. Betsy Gray or Hearts of Down, his most popular work, originally appeared in serial form in the newspaper. It was printed in paperback in 1888; a third edition came in 1894 and an illustrated sixth edition was published in 1913 by Robert Carswell, revised by the antiquarian Francis Joseph Bigger.

He wrote two further novels, Sons of the Sod and Daft Eddie or the Smugglers of Strangford Lough. He regularly performed at various public events as “Robin Gordon of Ballycuddy”.

Lyttle died on 1 November 1896, and is buried in the grounds of Bangor Abbey. His memorial there reads: “.a man of rare natural gifts, he raised himself to a high position among the journalists of Ireland. He was a brilliant and graceful writer, a true humourist and an accomplished poet. Robin was a kind friend, a genial companion and a true son of County Down.”

Date of Unveiling: 17 December 2013

Location of plaque: 85 Main Street, Bangor

Report of Plaque unveiling available HERE