Belfast Telegraph

Writers pay tribute to Ballycastle poet Heather Newcombe

By David Young

Tributes have been paid to Ballycastle poet Heather Newcombe, who has died aged 67 at her home in the north coast town.

A native of Coleraine, she was the author of several volumes of verse, including Almost Dancing (2004) and A Purse of Shadows (2010), and was a respected figure in Northern Ireland's literary landscape. She led the Ballycastle Writers Group and was Director of the Rathlin Island residential festival.

Playwright Martin Lynch described Heather's work A Purse of Shadows as "a mature, sure-handed, well-wrought collection of poems".

"Whether she is remembering the negative impact of religion on her early years, remembering her older family members or any range of random childhood memories, we are never short-changed. The short, sharp journey we are taken on for each separate bunch of words is never less than precise, powerful and beautiful."

Poet and friend Kate Newmann said: "Her creative generosity was memorable. Once, on Rathlin, she and the Ballycastle Writers had a vision of a festival with a difference - they hired a marquee and provided strawberries and cream and fizzy wine. It was an extraordinary cross between Wimbledon and a graduation, and no one who attended will ever forget it."

Heather is survived by her husband Cathal, her six children, 15 grandchildren and large family circle and will be mourned this weekend by her wider community of friends.

Her funeral will take place today, with Requiem Mass at noon at St Patrick's and St Brigid's Church.

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