Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Dublin salutes Seamus Heaney amid concerns Northern Ireland is being left behind in remembering famous son

Paul Simon addresses the audience at the unveiling of the tapestry
Paul Simon addresses the audience at the unveiling of the tapestry
A tapestry in honour of the the late Seamus Heaney
A tapestry in honour of the the late Seamus Heaney

The memory of Seamus Heaney is treasured worldwide, but as Dublin led the way with a day of celebrations of his life yesterday there were concerns that Northern Ireland could be being left behind in remembering one of its most famous sons.

Heaney, who died last August at the age of 74, was paid a new tribute yesterday as a commemorative tapestry, titled Out of the Marvellous, was hung in Dublin Airport.

US singer songwriter Paul Simon, a friend of the renowned poet, unveiled the tapestry before he headlined a memorial concert at Dublin's National Concert Hall.

Other guests at the concert included Irish President Michael D Higgins, poet Michael Longley and Co Tyrone singer-songwriter Paul Brady.

Paul Simon said: "How wonderful that the memory of Seamus Heaney will be celebrated with a work of art. Travellers would do well to carry Seamus Heaney's words with them as they journey around the globe. He was truly a poet for all the world."

The 16-metre square was designed by acclaimed Czech artist Peter Sis and was inspired by Seamus Heaney's poem Lightenings VIII.

The artwork features a book flying in a sky filled with words over an island.

The poem relates the tale of a marvellous ship that touches down at a monastery and is caught but then freed by the monks to fly away again into the "marvellous".

The idea was conceived by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey on behalf of Amnesty International and was supported by Simon, along with U2 figures Bono and The Edge.

Bono said: "With my life, I pass through a lot of airports. Seamus' poems are my companion on every journey. They come with me wherever I go.

"Now, when any of us travel – be it leaving our home, or our visitors returning to their own homes, Seamus will be there to bid us all farewell."

As Dublin soars ahead with its commemorations, the head of literature at Northern Ireland's arts council Damian Smyth said that Northern Ireland is giving "appropriate thought" to how it might commemorate the poet laureate.

"Over the last six or seven months there has been a lot of thought given to how to mark Heaney's legacy appropriately in Northern Ireland.

"I don't think it's inappropriate to take some time and just get it right – I think that's what we want to do."

He continued: "We need to recognise that it is a global brand and anything that reminds people of Heaney's origins on this island as a whole, and in Northern Ireland in particular, is a good thing and it always will do that because that's what he was about – it was about making the local global."

Mr Smyth added: "Anything that occurs anywhere in the world that has Seamus Heaney at the centre of it is only going to reinforce the roots of his work in south Derry."

Further reading

Heaney tapestry unveiled at airport

Seamus Heaney to be remembered at Listowel Writers' Week 

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