Belfast Telegraph

Mass for poet Seamus Heaney

The body of poet Seamus Heaney was taken to a Dublin church tonight ahead of a funeral service for the Nobel Laureate tomorrow.

Heaney's widow Marie led mourners at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook for the removal mass.

The internationally acclaimed 74-year-old writer died unexpectedly in a Dublin hospital on Friday after a short illness.

The Northern Ireland born son of a farmer, who made Dublin his home, will be buried in his native Bellaghy in Co Londonderry tomorrow evening after a funeral in the Donnybrook church in the morning.

Outside the church this evening, as the late summer sun bathed the exterior, family and friends hugged and exchanged stories about a poet already hailed as the best Ireland has produced since William Butler Yeats.

Former US president Bill Clinton has been among those paying tribute, describing Heaney as "our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives" and a "powerful voice for peace".

A hastily arranged celebration of the poet's life in Belfast's Lyric theatre last night was packed to capacity as the audience was treated to poignant recitals of his best known works.

Books of condolences are being opened in Derry, Belfast and Dublin.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it would take Heaney himself to describe the depth of loss Ireland felt over his death.

"He is mourned - and deeply - wherever poetry and the world of the spirit are cherished and celebrated," he said.

The 1995 Nobel prize-winner was born in April 1939, the eldest of nine children, on a small farm called Mossbawn near Bellaghy and his upbringing often played out in the poetry he wrote in later years.

The citation for the award praised Heaney "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past".

As well as his widow Marie, Heaney is survived by his three children, Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

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