From Bellaghy to Belfast and Beyond: On the Passing of Seamus Heaney




The funeral of Ireland’s Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, is to be held tomorrow following his death on Friday, August 30th.

The poet had passed away following a fall which resulted in exacerbating underlying medical problems, and will be buried tomorrow in his hometown of Bellaghy, following a requiem mass at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook.

As Mr Heaney’s body was taken to the church earlier this evening, hundreds of people lined the streets of Dublin to pay tribute to the writer.

Born on a farm in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, Mr Heaney’s glittering career took him around the world; from lecturing at Oxford, Harvard and Berkley to receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm, 1995.

Having received a scholarship, at the age of twelve, to study at St. Columb’s College in Derry, Mr Heaney progressed onto an English course at Queen’s as an undergraduate in 1957.

He flourished within the wider literary circles around Queen’s, becoming one of the key members of legendary 1960s poetry collective The Group, to which Michael Longley and Derek Mahon also belonged. The Group met weekly to discuss, critique and present their poetry, lead by lecturer of English, Philip Hobsbaum. The Group first began in 1963, incidentally the year Mr Heaney took up a post as lecturer in St. Joseph’s College. He completed teacher training at St. Josephs (since merged with St. Mary’s College) upon graduation in 1961 from Queen’s with a first class degree.

During his undergraduate years he was a member of An Cummann Gaelach (a part of which he performed in plays) and the Catholic Students’ Society and made reference in Dennis O’Driscoll’s “Stepping Stones”. He was also a supporter of The Literific Debating Society, which he later praised as one of the “more open” societies in Queen’s, owing to the fact that its membership was composed of both Catholic and Protestant students.

It was in The Gown that Mr Heaney first published many poems, and this paper has interviewed him many times through the years. His name remains a ubiquitous presence on campus, nowhere more noticeably than in the form of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, recently established within the School of English.

He will be deeply missed by the entire community at Queen’s. The Gown team wishes to extend our condolences to the Heaney family at this time.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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