William Allingham was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal on the 19th of March 1824. His father was a bank manager of English descent. He was the eldest of six children, though only four survived. When Allingham was only nine years old, his mother passed away.
He was sent to Belfast to be educated. There he remained until he was 14. He then received a job at the custom house in his home town of Ballyshannon. He would follow this career path until 1870, working in a number of custom houses throughout Ireland and England. By 1870, Allingham had made a name for himself as a poet. He published a number of books of poetry throughout his career in customs and was able to retire from his fay job and devote his time fully to his poetry.
He moved to London and began to work in magazines. In 1874 he married an illustrator named Helen Paterson. The couple had three children, but sadly, their first child died at the age of 6.
Allingham died on the 18th of November 1889 in Hampstead. He was cremated and some of his ashes were taken back to his homeland of Donegal. He is regarded as one of the great Irish poets and is credited as being a significant influence on W.B. Yeats.