Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Heaney tapestry unveiled at airport

Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who died last year

U2 frontman Bono and singer Paul Simon have said the late poet Seamus Heaney should be an inspiration to people on their travels as a tapestry dedicated to him was unveiled.

The 16m sq work, titled Out of the Marvellous, which was commissioned by Amnesty International and part funded by the singers, will hang from the ceiling of Dublin Airport's terminal two.

Bono said he cherishes Heaney's works every time he travels.

"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," he said.

"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."

The poet laureate died last August aged 74.

Paul Simon, a friend of the renowned poet, unveiled the tapestry as part of a day of celebrations in Dublin to mark his life where he also headlined a commemorative concert.

"How wonderful that the memory of Seamus Heaney be celebrated with a work of art," the US singer songwriter said.

"It speaks not only to the great affection with which his country holds him but also to a love of poetry that is a sacred part of the Irish soul.

"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 tapestry, which measures 4m wide by 4.5m long, was designed by acclaimed Czech artist Peter Sis and woven over the past five months by master weavers in Ateliers Pinton in Aubusson, France.

The idea was conceived by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey on behalf of Amnesty International and supported by others including U2 guitarist The Edge, Paul McGuinness and Kathy Gilfillan, Marie and Joe Donnelly, Kathy and Ed Ludwig and Dublin Airport Authority.

Heaney was a great supporter of the human rights organisation for more than 30 years and dedicated a poem to it titled From The Republic of Conscience which inspired the Ambassador of Conscience Award which has been given to people like Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Mr Shipsey said: "Seamus was the unofficial poet laureate of the entire Amnesty International global movement. He was a great friend and supporter and showed us by his life and with his writing what art in the light of conscience was all about."

The Edge, joined in the tribute adding that Heaney was an inspiration to the band.

"Seamus Heaney was an inspiration to our band - as well as to politicians, artists, dreamers and all in between, from every corner of the world. I love the idea that the words of this great poet - and Sis' beautiful tapestry - will send travellers from Ireland and beyond safely on their way 'out of the marvellous."

Kevin Toland, chief executive of Dublin Airport Authority, said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to showcase this wonderful tapestry to millions of travellers at Dublin Airport, in honour of a man who was uniquely of Ireland, but who wove our stories so vividly for the world."

Later, Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said the celebration of Heaney's life had been hugely anticipated.

"I am delighted that the life and work of Seamus Heaney is being commemorated in the National Concert Hall," he said.

"Seamus was one of the most important writers of our age. Prior to his passing last year, I had the privilege of hearing him read his work in Paris at the Centre Culturel Irlandais. Hearing him read, demonstrating his wonderful skill with words and mastery of language, is one of my most cherished memories.

"His was truly a special talent and it is fitting that we would pay homage to that talent tonight."

Among the performers celebrating the poet's life and works are artists Theo Dorgan, Peter Fallon, Michael Longley, Donal Lunny, Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon and Liam O'Flynn.

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