Seamus Heaney: ‘an understated man’

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - August 31st 2013.'Picture by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye ''Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness sign the Seamus Heaney Book of Condolences at the Guildhall, Derry.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - August 31st 2013.'Picture by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye ''Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness sign the Seamus Heaney Book of Condolences at the Guildhall, Derry.

Derry’s Diocesan Administrator says Seamus Heaney was an “understated man”.

Rev. Francis Bradley, who is heading up the Diocese until a new Bishop is appointed, said that, while the entire world mourned the loss of one of its “most gifted poets, scholars and thinkers”, it was the Heaney family “who, most of all, would know the loss of a husband, father and friend”.

Mr. Heaney hailed from the parish of Bellaghy in the south east of the Derry Diocese and spent six years as a boarder at St Columb’s College in Bishop Street during the 1950s.

Fr. Bradley said of the Nobel laureate: “In a style typical of the part of the country from which he came, he was an understated man.

“The international aplomb with which he was feted in being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the honours which were so frequently given him by many institutions of learning, the reverence with which he was greeted by people great and small from across the world - all of these were carried lightly by this quietly spoken, yet immensely charismatic man.

“Our country knows what it gained through his life and what it loses by his death. In his own words, ‘out of side-streets and bye-roads purring family cars nose into line, the whole country tunes to the muffled drumming of ten thousand engines.’

“His squat pen now rests snugly, for with it he dug down and down into the good turf of the human soul. He will rest in the soil of Bellaghy, not far from Toner’s bog where his people cut their turf.

“May he rest, too, snugly, in the gentle embrace of God as he moves the short distance from the world of letters into the peace of God’s Word made flesh.

“On behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese of Derry, I express my condolences to his wife, Marie, to his children Catherine Anne, Christopher and Michael and to his entire family and many friends.

“As a people of hope, we pray that he rest now in peace with the saints.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Eamon Martin, former president of St Columb’s College - the poet’s old school - described Heaney as “a quiet Irish man who wrote our story without rhetoric”.