Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 1 February 2015

Seamus Heaney: Bellaghy's famous son will rest beside little brother

Seamus Heaney, pictured in 1995
Seamus Heaney, pictured in 1995
21/12/2011: Irish Nobel laureate Dr Seamus Heaney with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, today handed over his literary papers to the National Library of Ireland
21/12/2011 Dr Seamus Heaney literary papers to National Library. Irish Nobel laureate Dr Seamus Heaney today handed over his literary papers to the National Library of Ireland
21/12/2011: Irish Nobel laureate Dr Seamus Heaney with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, today handed over his literary papers to the National Library of Ireland
22/06/2013. Kennedy homecoming. Seamus Heaney pictured as a bust of the late Senator Edward Kennedy is unveiled at the Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown Co Wexford
Seamus Heaney - poet / writer
Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
16/06/2011. Seamus Heaney receives Ulysses medal. Playwright Brian Friel (left) and poet Seamus Heaney prior to the Bloomsday conferral ceremony where Mr Heaney was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature
16/06/2011. Seamus Heaney receives Ulysses medal. Nobel Laureate, Poet, Seamus Heaney with poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill in the grounds of University College Dublin (UCD) where he was presented with the Ulysses medal
Seamus Heaney pictured on his 70th birthday at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham
File photo dated 20/06/06 of Seamus Heaney who has died aged 74
Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Irish poet, Seamus Heaney as Irish President Mary McAleese, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Dr. Martin McAleese look on before a State Dinner at Dublin Castle, on May 18, 2011 in Dublin
File photo dated 22/06/13 of Seamus Heaney reading a poem in front of a bust of Senator Ted Kennedy
Seamus Heaney (L) talks with Sir Ian McKellen after attending a memorial service for actor Paul Scofield on March 19, 2009 in London
Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney
PACEMAKER Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney guest speaker at the Holocaust Memorial event in the Waterfront Hall. 27/01/04
Seamus Heaney was a past pupil at Annahorish Primary School in Toome
Seamus Heaney Pic: Mark Condren 4/4/08
The University College Dublin Ulysses Medal was awarded to Seamus Heaney in 2011. This is the highest honour that the university can bestow
Seamus Heaney at Sandymount in Dublin, 1995
Seamus Heaney at Sandymount in Dublin, 1995
File Pics Seamus Heaney Had Died Today. Irish Poet Seamus Heaney(M) with Dunnes Stores Workers at a anti apartheid demo. 19/10/1985 Photo: Eamonn Farrell Photocall Ireland
Pacemaker: 10/09/09 Poet Seamus Heaney unveils the key stone on the site of the new Lyric Theatre in Belfast
Pacemaker: Field Day Theatre Company performing "The Cure at Troy" by Seamus Heaney, directed by Stephen Rea
A sculpture, which marks the completion of the Bellaghy Community Regeneration Improvement Special Programme, was unveiled Thursday 2nd April 2009 by the Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney
A sculpture, which marks the completion of the Bellaghy Community Regeneration Improvement Special Programme, was unveiled Thursday 2nd April 2009 by the Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney
A sculpture, which marks the completion of the Bellaghy Community Regeneration Improvement Special Programme, was unveiled Thursday 2nd April 2009 by the Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney
6-07-2010: A new £50m library at Queen's University was officially opened by Seamus Heaney (right), picutred with Vice Chancellor of Queen's, Professor Peter Gregson.
6-07-2010: A new £50m library at Queen's University was officially opened by Seamus Heaney
6-07-2010: A new £50m library at Queen's University was officially opened by Seamus Heaney
10/09/2009: Poet Seamus Heaney at Lyric Threshold Stone unveiling at the widely recognised Lyric Theatre as the unveiling of the threshold stone highlights the progress that has been made with the construction of the new theatre

Seamus Heaney will be laid to rest in the same graveyard as a toddler brother immortalised in one of his greatest poems.

In the village of Bellaghy, the news of the death of its most famous son was greeted with shock, tears and grief.

Fr Andy Dolan scrolled through parish records and pointed to a page marked '1952'. Seven columns down is the name of Christopher Heaney, aged three-and-a-half.

"A foot for every year," says Fr Dolan, quoting Heaney's poem 'Mid-Term Break' in which the poet tells of returning home from boarding school for his little brother's wake.

"They will be bringing Seamus home on Monday," sighed Fr Dolan, a personal friend.

"The world has lost a huge talent and we have lost a wonderful friend."

Fr Dolan pointed to a corner of the graveyard at St Mary's Parish Church. "That's where he wanted to be buried, in the same graveyard as Christopher," he said.

Former blacksmith Barney Devlin was the inspiration for the poem 'The Forge', penned in 1969.

The 95-year-old said: "I was shocked to hear of Seamus's death. He was only a young man -- compared to me anyway. It's certainly a big loss for the area."

In Mr Devlin's living room, a painting of him and the poet at the "dark door" of the old forge hangs above a handwritten copy of the highly acclaimed work. It is signed off with the note, "Hammer on Barney".

The village and the surrounding area is fiercely proud of Heaney -- as he was of them.

Many of his works are held at Bellaghy Bawn, a 15th Century house, unfortunately now closed due to lack of funding.

A statue of 'The Turf Man', unveiled by Heaney four years ago, sits at the entrance to the village -- marking his most famous poem 'Digging'.

Just up the road is Anahorish Primary School where Heaney began his life in education and which he also wrote about in a poem. A copy of the poem, written on parchment by Heaney and signed by him, takes pride of place in the school office.

Heaney's face is engraved in a plaque at the entrance to commemorate their greatest past pupil.

Principal Danny Quinn admitted he was in a "complete state of shock". He added: "He never forgot his roots and people here are all the sadder for his passing."

On Monday, Seamus Heaney will come back to this place he called home for the final time.

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