Geoghegan (Called Lewis) Harold Charles

Grave position details

Zone 1
Row 10
Position 51
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General description

The inscription on the gravestone reads: “1877-1941 To the memory of the poet “Lewis” Charles Harold Geoghegan “Il Bardo Errante” as he used to call himself. His friends of the Caffe Greco according to his wishes had him buried here amongst artists and poets. This memorial was erected by subscription.” His portrait is a drawing on porcelain, a unique concession to what is a very Roman but hardly a non-Catholic custom.

In the Cemetery’s files we found his particulars: father (Houy), mother not known, birthplace Dublin. How come an Irishman, and so a Catholic, could be buried here? In a letter of 8 September 1941, his friends at the Caffè Greco stressed to the cemetery’s Director that yes, the late Lewis came from a Catholic family, but in recent years in Rome he had been living with an evangelical organization, the Salvation Army. “Moreover, as the Office for Foreigners at the Questura of Rome has indicated to you, the late Lewis had many times declared himself to be nonCatholic….” Construction of his tomb took some time. In 1943 a letter from Piermattei, director of the Cemetery, points out that the works for it had exceeded the estimated cost (a well-known situation today as it was then!). The sum of 780 lire had been set aside but, with the addition of a plaque and other details, the costs had risen to as much as 1,312 lire. The writer of the letter, Federico Gubinelli, begged to have “…a major discount, or otherwise I will be in real difficulty” (he was the owner of the Caffè Greco at the time). In a faded newspaper clipping Lewis is described as a classic regular at the Caffè Greco: “Tall, thin, haggard and pale from the many hours he spent in his favourite caffè” where he used to recite his mysterious rhymes “in which he confessed in his mother-tongue his love for Rome”

G.C., as the author signs himself, had not had the privilege of knowing Lewis but he had admired from afar his finest compositions, and the wrinkles of his face like words on a page.” “Rome was at the heart of his life…this Rome of ours in which we sometimes are wrong to live without thinking of the singular privilege that good fortune has conceded to us”. What is there to say about this comment made in 1941? Once again, today as it was then!

Contributed by Maria Cristina Crespo, a Roman artist

The editor adds: the portrait on the gravestone is taken from a drawing of 1937 by Feri Faragó in the collection of the Caffè Greco. As a regular habitué of the café for many years, ‘Lewis’ made a striking figure – an impoverished, romantic poet who used to declaim the poetry of Dante and Milton, even sometimes his own, to his friends assembled there. According to Diego Angeli in his Cronache del Caffé Greco, he had moved to Rome from Milan where he had known everyone in the music world. Geoghegan had thought himself in love with the great actress Maria Melato and spent hours writing poems and love-letters to her. He also frequented Cinecittà where his unusual appearance helped to employ him as an extra. In the weeks before he died, he played a dying plague victim in the leper asylum scene from I Promessi Sposi (1941), directed by Mario Camerini, which was a huge commercial success.

For a life characterised by the three “P”s of Poetry, Passion and Poverty, Manlio Barberito reckoned the Errant Bard to be the last figure of the Romantic era.

Find out more in the newsletter of the non-Catholic cemetery

Personal information

Geoghegan (Lewis) Harold Charles was born in Dublino, Ireland, on 15/01/1877. Worked as Poet and Writer and died on 05/09/1941. Burial by this cemetery dates back to 1941. 

More details

Notes about this person:

The complete guide to find a grave

All the graves of the Non-Catholic Cemetery can be located through the position details that can be read within each single buried person’s page or gravestone’s page itself.

Exact position can be located by 4 simple fields: The Area (Zona), The quarter (Riquadro), The Row (Fila) and The Position (Posizione).


The Areas (Zona)

The Non-Catholic cemetery of Rome is composed by 5 large areas. All areas are bounded by walkable paths, so they are very easy to locate.

ATTENTION: We gently remind to all visitors that the Antica(A) area is a flat and grassy garden, and the graves are scattered in a very informal fashion. Furthermore we suggest you to exclusively refer to the walk’s map and also to the photo of the gravestone to locate the exact position.


The quarter* (Riquadro) *valid only for the Terza Zona (3)

The quarter is strictly related to the Terza Zona of the cemetery.

This area is divided into 4 quadrants numbered as shown in this map.

Only the graves in the Terza Zona will have the quarter indicated in the position information.

The field that represent the quarter will be empty/not visible in each other grave except the graves in the Terza Zona.

Please note that to identify any tomb it is always possible to refer to the walk’s map and to the photo of the grave.





The Row (Fila) 

The graves in the cemetery are mostly laid out in ordered rows.

Only the Zona Antica(A) and the tombs along the walls, for example ossuaries, are an exception.

In order to count the row number it is necessary to recognize the lower part of the cemetery as a reference. The Non-Catholic cemetery in fact extends over a slight slope (except for the Zona Antica which is flat but does not have rows).

The first row will always be the one at the lowest level compared to the others.

Once the first row is identified it will be easy to count all the others rows.



The Position (Posizione)

It is used to locate the grave within the reference row.

The position can be identified by counting the graves from left to right.

The count must be made always starting from the left end of the area where the tomb is located.