Deep sadness at death of poet Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney, who has died aged 74.
Seamus Heaney, who has died aged 74.

Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney has died aged 74.

Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 at the family farmhouse of “Mossbawn” near Castledawson in Co Derry, and educated initially at Anahorish Primary School. He later won a scholarship to St Columb’s College in Derry.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins has led tributes to Heaney.

“It is with the greatest sadness that I have heard of the passing of Seamus Heaney whose contribution to the republics of letters, conscience, and humanity was immense. As tributes flow in from around the world, as people recall the extraordinary occasions of the readings and the lectures, we in Ireland will once again get a sense of the depth and range of the contribution of Seamus Heaney to our contemporary world, but what those of us who have had the privilege of his friendship and presence will miss is the extraordinary depth and warmth of his personality.

“The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world.

“Long before his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which Sabina and I, and the late Davy Hammond attended with him as his guests, we were aware of his grace and his generosity.

“His careful delving, translation and attention to the work of other poets in different languages and often in conditions of unfreedom, meant that he provided them with an audience of a global kind. And we in Ireland gained from his scholarship and the breath of his reference.

“Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus’ poems. Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience,” he said

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was both “shocked and deeply saddened” by Heaney’s death.

Writing on Twitter, Mr McGuinness said: “Very shocked & deeply saddened to hear that Seamus Heaney, Derry man, poet & Nobel Laureate has died. My thoughts & prayers with Marie & family.”

Heaney is one of four Irish Nobel literature laureates along with WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett.

The north’s Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said while Heaney’s reputation was global ”he never lost sight of his roots.

“His writings were universal, but frequently dealt with the smallest details of life in Ireland. His poems could be disarmingly simple and yet had an engaging complexity.

“He could show poignancy, insight and humour in a single line. Heaney captured the character of this land and its people, and conveyed it in words which will echo for generations. He was a Nobel Laureate and international figure, but a Co Derry man at heart.”

Earlier this month the 1995 Nobel Laureate performed ‘The Poet and the Piper’, along with acclaimed piper Liam O’Flynn in Derry at the Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann.