President Michael D. Higgins says Ireland has lost a 'foremost critic, novelist and academic' and Derry has lost an 'incomparable' son in Seamus Deane

The President Michael D. Higgins has said Ireland has lost a 'foremost critic...distinguished poet, novelist and internationally acclaimed university teacher,' and Derry has lost an 'incomparable' son, in Seamus Deane.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:20 pm
The late Seamus Deane.

President Higgins quoted from the late writer's poem 'Derry' in leading tributes following Mr. Deane's death after a short illness on Thursday.

“The Unemployment in our bones

Erupting on our hands in stones

The thought of violence a relief,

The act of violence a grief

Our bitterness and love

Hand in glove.”

"The death of Seamus Deane is an incalculable loss to Irish critical writing, indeed Irish writing in general, as his passing represents not only the loss of a foremost critic but of a distinguished poet, novelist and internationally acclaimed university teacher," said President Higgins.

He added: "To Derry he leaves the incomparable legacy of the life, the writing, the concerns, the despair and the hope, that he shared with its people and to which so much of the work would respond.

"Few cities have a writer more embedded in its people, its history, its challenges, its hopes and its humour."

The President compared Mr. Deane to an iconic Irish writer of an earlier era Seán O'Casey.

"There are, to me, parallels between Seamus Deane’s relationship to Derry and, in his time, Sean O’Casey’s relationship to Dublin in the way the full experience of its peoples are placed at the centre of the writing. All of the living is allowed its place.

"Seamus Deane was, too, a leading part of the great burst of intellectual revival that led to The Crane Bag, The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature and many other innovations, which will be recalled as examples of the collaboration he had with his scholarly neighbours, and others, in giving a valuable affirmative to the importance and energy of Irish writing. When reasonably criticised for omission in a work he replied with the candour of a critic who had become himself the subject of a legitimate criticism. This was typical of the scholar in him."

According to the President his most famous work - the Booker nominated 'Reading in the Dark' - and the quoted poem 'Derry' spoke truthfully about his experience of his native city.

"The price paid for a great talent, such as Seamus Deane had, was high and is revealed, I believe, in his work, including his fine novel ‘Reading in the Dark’.

"That work too was delivered with a truth that combined the word, the place, the history, the lives, and the power of communal humour in the act of survival."

The President sent his condolence to his family, friends and the people of Derry.

"Eternal peace be with our great writer and critic Seamus Deane. Sabina and I send our sympathies to his family, the people of Derry and his many, many friends and former students at home and abroad. Siochán síoraí dá anam lách."