Young, Robert (1800–p.1867), poet, known as ‘Fermanagh True Blue’, was born at or near Fintona, Co. Tyrone, into humble circumstances. He described himself as ‘an almost illiterate journeyman nailor’ (Orange minstrel, xvi) and was resentful all his life of his lack of education. In 1825 he was discovered by Thomas Cowan of Fintona, who lent him books, had some verses of his published in the Antidote newspaper, and introduced him to the Rev. John Graham, a published Orange poet and editor of plays. Young obtained work as a nailor at Newtown Limavady in 1825 in order to visit Graham daily, and wrote at that period his ‘Song for the anniversary of the shutting of the gates of Derry’ which proved popular and was published on Graham's recommendation in the Londonderry Journal. The following year Graham tried to get him into the Kildare Place model school in Dublin to receive an education for eighteen months, but this came to nothing and Graham then advised him to cease writing verse and concentrate on making a living. Young initially concurred with this, but the proceedings of the Catholic Association so incensed him that he was roused to verse.
In 1832 his Orange minstrel, or the Ulster melodist was published, a collection of triumphalist, bombastic, rhythmic verse dedicated to celebrating Orange victories. It sold well and had a local following but was not reviewed in literary magazines. His next collection was the Ulster harmonist (1840) and his subsequent works were anthologies of his and other Orange poets' works, The poetical remembrancer (1854) and Poetical works of Robert Young of Londonderry (1863). His poetic output was slim, unadventurous, and repetitive. His last-mentioned volume of verse contained a small number of ‘agricultural’ poems in addition to his usual Orange doggerel, and these more inoffensive poems were used as justification for petitioning for a grant from the royal literary fund in 1866. A grant of £40 a year was awarded in November 1866, largely on the recommendation of the marquis of Dufferin (qv).
In March the following year, the matter was raised strongly in the house of commons by Myles William O'Reilly (qv), MP for Longford, who read out such extracts from Young's verse as: ‘We'll fight for our country/ Our queen and our crown/ And make all the traitors and croppies lie down/ Down, down, croppies lie down’ and then explained his difficulty in getting hold of one of Young's books, as on receipt of the pension his friends had apparently burned all available copies. The house sided firmly with O'Reilly; Dufferin was much embarrassed but pleaded as mitigation that the memorial asking for a pension for Young had been signed by the catholic bishop of Derry. Young's pension was not withdrawn and he continued to receive it until his death, which date is not recorded. His verse has been dismissed as doggerel by D. J. O'Donoghue (qv) and by the Rev. H. W. Cleary, historian of the Orange Order. However, Robert Welch, noting the similarity between certain lines by Young and by W. B. Yeats (qv), advances the intriguing opinion that the Orange rhymes read to Yeats by a stable boy in Sligo – which, Yeats wrote, ‘gave me the pleasure of rhyme for the first time’ (Autobiographies, 14) – were probably Young's.