Schoolgirl pens musical tribute to Seamus Heaney

A Derry school girl has penned a moving musical tribute to poet Seamus Heaney, who died earlier this year.

Fifteen year old Niamh McCay, a fifth year student at Thornhill College, wrote ‘A Song for Heaney’ three days after the hugely respected poet died in August.

Thornhill student Niamh McCay who will be performing next week in >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 0402JM14

Thornhill student Niamh McCay who will be performing next week in >>>>>>>>>>>>>> 0402JM14

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Niamh said she wanted to “do something” to mark the loss of someone she had greatly admired and had hoped to meet.

“It’s not a song which is very obviously about Seamus Heaney - if you listened to it. It’s about loss and how people recover after that loss but it was written with Heaney, who was one of my favourite poets, in mind.”

Niamh, who has been making her mark through the City of Culture year said she first fell in love with the poetry of Seamus Heaney while studying for her Grade 5 in drama.

“At that stage we started to look at poets. I quickly realised that I preferred the work of Irish poets and that I particularly identified with the work of Heaney. The more I found out about him and his life, the more he intrigued me,

“In a way I find his work so relatable. It’s honest and raw.”

Niamh’s favourite poem is ‘Follower’ - which in itself touches on the themes of grief and acceptance.

“It’s a really sad but very powerful poem,” Niamh said. “But there isn’t a poem of his that I don’t like.”

‘A Song for Heaney’, Niamh hopes, shows that even though he has died, his legacy lives on.

“I wanted to write something so that I could make sense of it and mark his life in my own way,” Niamh said. The song she said has garnered a very positive response from those who have heard it.

“Different people have responded differently. It does feel very personal and close to my heart but it is something people can relate to because when you lose someone you worry they will be forgotten, but of course they won’t.”

Niamh managed to write the song while studying for her GCSEs and also rehearsing for her role in The Lenanshee - a major production to be held at The Venue next weekend.

She recommends as many people as possible get along to see the show, which is a collaborative work between local schools as part of the Music Promise.

“People will hear about the next day and wish they had come to see it,” Niamh said.

To view Niamh’s tribute to Seamus Heaney, visit