Belfast Telegraph

Heaney 'honoured' to donate notes

Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has donated his personal literary notes to the National Library of Ireland.

The poet handed over his collection, comprising notebooks given to him and signed by his children as gifts, to an audience including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

"It's a privilege and honour to have my own work sheets and drafts and manuscripts and text scripts in our National Library joining the great writers of the past and the great writers of the present," said Dr Heaney.

"It's all part of a chain, a written chain. We'll call it a human chain."

The 72-year-old's personal notes and work books will join those of Irish literary masters James Joyce and fellow Nobel Prize winner WB Yeats.

Given the move to electronic records, the collection, which also includes typescript and manuscript drafts of prose works such as The Government of the Tongue, is likely to be one of the last paper archives of a major writer held at the library.

Dr Heaney joked he was pleased the boxes full of papers and notes would no longer clutter his home, saying: "It's a happiness to feel no regrets at the removal of the stuff from the house, but to feel a cause for gratitude and pride."

Derry-born Dr Heaney, whose first major collection of poetry, Death of a Naturalist, was published in 1966, was joined by his wife Marie and children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann at the reception in the Reading Room of the National Library.

He said he was particularly honoured by a speech given by the Taoiseach to mark the important occasion.

"Your work has brought a clarity, a light to our nation," said Mr Kenny. "It's a privilege to be here sir in your company. Thank you very much for what you've done for our country."

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