Last respects paid to Irish literary giant

Family flowers on the coffin of Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney before his funeral at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook in south Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 2, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Heaney. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Family flowers on the coffin of Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney before his funeral at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook in south Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday September 2, 2013. See PA story FUNERAL Heaney. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
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Family and friends of Seamus Heaney gathered yesterday to pay their last respects to one of Ireland’s literary greats.

The 74-year-old Co. Derry poet and author died unexpectedly in a Dublin hospital on Friday after a short illness.

Mourners at his funeral Mass at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook were led by his widow Marie and children Michael, Christopher and Catherine Ann.

President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and playwright Brian Friel were in attendance.

The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was also present, as was former President Mary McAleese.

The chief celebrant of the Mass, Monsignor Brendan Devlin, described the poet as a “brilliant literary critic” and “articulator of the years of pain in the North.”

He added: “In our natural consternation in the presence of death and the termination of our earthly supports, we can only turn our eyes on life in that spirit of Christian optimism which, it seems to me, breathes in much of the work of Seamus Heaney and which I believe to be his inheritance from our troubled past.”