Belfast Telegraph

Seamus Heaney: Four days of celebration to explore the rich legacy of Northern Ireland's greatest wordsmith


The work of one of the greatest poets of our age is to be celebrated at an international conference in Belfast.

Seamus Heaney's contribution to literature and his legacy for future generations of poets, critics and readers will be explored at Queen's University next week.

Entitled Seamus Heaney: a Conference and Commemoration, the four-day event has been organised by Queen's University's School of English, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and the Nobel Laureate's 75th birthday on April 13.

The internationally respected poet, who was a Queen's undergraduate and a lecturer in the School of English, died at the age of 74 last August, after suffering a short illness.

The first of a series of activities to mark the Bellaghy man's legacy at Queen's will be a celebration of his work, an opportunity for discussion of his contribution to literature, and an occasion to examine his remarkable legacy.

As well as a full academic programme, the conference, which will run from April 10-13, will feature a series of readings, two of which are open to the public, at the Ulster Hall and the Lyric Theatre.

Ahead of next week's event deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness paid tribute to the power of Heaney's poetry.

"The work of Seamus Heaney will continue to move us deeply and enrich all our lives and this conference and commemoration at Queen's will be a fitting way to celebrate his contribution to literature and his legacy for future generations of poets," he said.

Professor Ciaran Carson, director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's, described Seamus Heaney's presence at Queen's as "an encouraging force" when he was a student there over forty years ago.

"At this conference we honour and commemorate his role as a poet whose work has achieved international renown, but we are also remembering him as a teacher, as a critic, and as a friend," he added.

Meanwhile, Belfast's poet laureate, Dr Sinead Morrissey, who is also a reader in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, said: "The four day event will look at the impact of all aspects of Seamus Heaney's writing, most obviously his poetry, but also his work as critic, as translator, as dramatist and as broadcaster.

"It will have a particular emphasis on assessing his legacy and the lines of his influence running into future generations," she added.


Two public poetry events celebrating Seamus Heaney's work:

  • Ulster Hall, Belfast – Thursday April 10 at 8pm: Carol Ann Duffy, Paula Meehan, Peter McDonald, and Don Paterson. The event will be introduced by Sinead Morrissey, Poet Laureate of Belfast. Tickets £3.
  • Lyric Theatre, Belfast – Sunday April 13 at 8pm: Paul Durcan, Gerald Dawe, Medbh McGuckian, and Michael Longley. Tickets £3.

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