Belfast Telegraph

Seamus Heaney: Lensman recalls putting literary giant in the frame

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Bobbie Hanvey has recalled the enjoyment he got from photographing his good friend Seamus Heaney.

The award-winning lensman, from Downpatrick, first met the poet in 1969, as a young man.

Bobbie explained the unusual circumstances of their introduction that would lead to various photoshoots together down the years.

Bobbie said: "He landed into my house in Downpatrick in 1969 with David Hammond, the film maker and folk singer, and David says 'I want you to tax this man's car for four years because he's going down to live down south'."

The John J Burns Library at Boston College acquired the first part of the Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives in 2001, with major additions to the collection made in 2008 and 2009, bringing the total number of negatives in the Hanvey Archives to more than 50,000.

The stunning collection is arranged into 15 series, encompassing scores of images of writers, journalists and poets, including many of Heaney.

One of the striking images was used on the front page of Saturday's Belfast Telegraph.

Bobbie said: "One time I photographed him in the bog in Bellaghy and he says 'excuse me' and went into the house.

"So he came out dressed in his father's hat, coat, walking stick and wellingtons.

"He says, 'take this' and I didn't know at the time it was his father's outfit, but I knew later.

"A couple of years later he said to me, 'you were lucky you got that photograph, because I would never do that again' and then I figured out he might have been feeling very close to his father at that time."

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