A 'Wake' for Seamus Heaney

3 Sep 2013

'Seamus Heaney was a greatly loved and respected figure in Irish cultural life. Born in 1939, the same year that W.B. Yeats died, Heaney compares and contrasts with his predecessor instructively. Both men pondered the role of poetry during times of political violence. Both eloquently defended the power of language and poetry to break open new ways of thinking and being, to, as Heaney put it, 'provoke consciousness into new postures'. But unlike the austere and aristocratic Yeats, Heaney's vision was inclusive, democratic, suffused with the ordinary. He always found time to support younger writers and to reach out to his legions of admirers. His public poetry readings were legendary. He used to joke that the really rare editions were the unsigned copies of his works! This ever-kindly, snow-haired figure became an embodiment of the civilised virtues: deeply learned, ever-humane, graceful, exquisitely eloquent and articulate. We mourn his passing, but take our comfort in the legacy of beautiful prose and poetry he leaves behind.

Rónán McDonald


Dear Friend

The Global Irish Studies Centre is organising a small, spontaneous gathering in honour of Seamus Heaney, who as you all know died on Friday 30 August. We hope to read some poems, raise a glass, and share some thoughts about Ireland's great poet in an informal and convivial setting.

It will take place upstairs in Surry Hills' Trinity Bar upstairs at 6.30pm this Thursday 5 September. Trinity Bar website 

Short notice, I know, but we hope you can come. Please bring your Heaney volumes and a favourite poem to read. We don't want it to be huge and are not advertising it, nor organising any 'formal' elements. People will buy their own food and drinks. GISC affiliates, adjuncts and friends are warmly welcome. Please spread the word to people you know who might be interested.

Best wishes

Rónán