Belfast Telegraph

Mourners at Ciaran Carson's funeral hear tributes to 'craftsman of words'

The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of poet Ciaran Carson takes place on October 10th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Hundreds of mourners gathered in north Belfast for the funeral of the celebrated poet, novelist, translator and "craftsman of words" Ciaran Carson on Thursday.

Among those attending the funeral mass at St Therese of Lisieux was a representative of the Irish President Michael D Higgins and members of the artistic community from across Ireland.

His wife Deirdre and children Manus, Gerard and Mary were also joined by their extended family.

The poet Paul Muldoon, a contemporary of Mr Carson, gave a reading of the Robert Frost poem ‘After Apple-Picking’.

Mr Carson passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday after battling lung cancer and would have celebrated his 71st birthday on Wednesday.

The service was accompanied by Irish traditional music, with mourners hearing of his “creative genius” and humble nature.

Fr Paul Morely said he would be remembered as “a craftsman of words”.

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The second of five children, Mr Carson was born on the Falls Road into a household where Irish was the first language.

“Ciaran learned English as he played on the street,” Fr Morely said.

“His childhood love of stamp collecting made way for a lifelong passion of collecting, maps, pens, watches, shoes, suits and ties. The list goes on.”

He added: “For Ciaran’s family his death is a big loss of love and for the literary world it’s a big loss of a literary genius.”

After attending St Mary’s Christian Brothers School he studied English at Queen’s University Belfast in 1967. During this time he became a member of the Belfast Group, a poets’ workshop that also included Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon.

“This litany of creative geniuses” in 1960s Northern Ireland. Fr Morely said, was a special time for the literary world.

Ciaran Carson in Belfast in 1999
Ciaran Carson in Belfast in 1999

Mr Carson’s career saw him publish 16 volumes of poetry as well as novels and books about Irish traditional music.

His multiple awards included a TS Eliot and a Forward Prize.

Working for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998, he had responsibility for traditional music and literature.

In 2003, he was appointed as Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast.

He was also a long-standing member of Aosdona - an Irish association of the arts - and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

When he was previously asked to write his epitaph in 10 words or less, Fr Morely said Mr Carson had answered in a typically modest fashion: “‘Happy to meet and sorry to part. It’s the name of a jig I have been playing on the flute for at least  half my life’.”

The late Ciaran Carson photographed last week
The late Ciaran Carson photographed last week

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