THE Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney was laid to rest in Bellaghyon Monday after he passed away following a short illness on Friday (August 30).
The acclaimed poet recently visited Londonderry for the Fleadh Cheoil, during which he performed the Poet and the Piper with Liam O’Flynn in the Millennium forum.
The Bellaghy born poet (aged 74) attended St Columb’s College in the city as a boarder.
Mayor of Londonderry Martin Reilly has opened a book of condolence.
He said: “This news reaches us on the day as a new generation begin their journey and their first day of a new year at St Columb’s College. As we mourn the loss of one of the greatest poets the world has seen, a playwright, a lecturer and recipient of 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, ambassador of the city, Seamus Heaney’s legacy as a true cultural icon will live on.
“His words spoke of love, memory, past and present, conflict, the world and it was his interpretation of English language that touched the hearts and minds of many. Seamus Heaney has been a great advocate of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the North West Region and of course the City of Culture.
“Only recently I had the privilege of seeing him perform at the ‘Poet and the Piper’ as part of the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann celebrations at the Millennium Forum, which was both a powerful and moving performance.
“On behalf of the city, I want to offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Seamus at this time. I will now open a book of condolence in the Guildhall for the citizens of the city to pay their respects.”
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Seamus Heaney. Seamus was a man of such decency and a poet of such eminence.
“He is one of Derry’s most famous sons and through the universal popularity of his work he has asserted such a huge influence on the arts scene globally.”
Fleadh Chairperson Eibhlín Ní Dhochartaigh said: “It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Seamus. We would like to extend our sympathies to Seamus’s family and friends.
“The entire team here at Fleadh 2013 are truly honoured to have had Seamus with us for the Fleadh in Derry and it was entirely fitting that this very special performance was in Derry. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”
After his education in Londonderry Mr Heaney went on to become a world renowned giant of English literature, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 for “works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.”
The award placed Mr Heaney in a pantheon of literary giants that includes Rudyard Kipling, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard shaw, Thomas Mann, John Galsworthy, Herman Hesse, William Faulkner, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Halldór Laxness, Albert Camus, John Steinbeck, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Pablo Neruda, Patrick White, Saul Bellow, Gabriel García Márquez, William Golding, Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott and Toni Morrison.