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Seamus Heaney: Tributes flood in for one of Ireland's greatest ever men of letters

"Seamus Heaney was one of the finest Irish poets to ever live. Heaney taught us that 'once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme'. We have been lucky in our lifetimes to see that tidal wave of justice rise and to find our hopes reflected in historic moments of opportunity. But most of all, we were lucky to have a poet with the grace of Seamus Heaney, whose simple, honest wisdom could help us better understand ourselves and the world we inhabit. I am sorry that we lost him, but grateful that his words will live on."

"I am greatly saddened today to learn of the death of Seamus Heaney, one of the great European poets of our lifetime. I had the privilege to meet him on a number of occasions and hear his work first-hand. The strength, beauty and character of his words will endure for generations to come and were rightly recognised with the Nobel Prize for Literature. I would like to extend, on behalf of the European Commission, my condolences to his family."

"He went on producing miracles throughout his life. As a private citizen I feel as though I have lost a brother. I think there are tens of thousands of people today who will be feeling personally bereaved because he had a great presence. You know, just as his presence filled a room, so his marvellous poems filled the hearts of generations of readers."

"It is with the greatest sadness that I have heard of the passing of Seamus Heaney whose contribution to the republics of letters, conscience, and humanity was immense. As tributes flow in from around the world, as people recall the extraordinary occasions of the readings and the lectures, we in Ireland will once again get a sense of the depth and range of the contribution of Seamus Heaney to our contemporary world, but what those of us who have had the privilege of his friendship and presence will miss is the extraordinary depth and warmth of his personality."

"In less than three weeks' time – on September 19 – St Columb's College was planning to host an evening in celebration of one of its most famous sons, Seamus Heaney. We were greatly looking forward to welcoming the Nobel Laureate and Alumnus Illustrissimus and his wife Marie back to the school that he has returned to so many times over the years and to recognising his immense contribution to his school, his country and to literature worldwide."

"I have known Seamus Heaney since the early Sixties in Belfast when I met him at Philip Hobsbaum's group at Queen's. Even his first poems were of a strength and brilliance and there was a thrill of pride in knowing someone who had a poem, Turkeys Observed, published in The Belfast Telegraph – and the fact that it was such a good poem. From then on his poetry was itself – peerless and profound. It managed to have greatness and simplicity at the same time."

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ireland's greatest poet and one of the literary giants of our generation, Seamus Heaney. Foremost in my thoughts are his family and friends and I offer my sincere sympathies to his wife Marie, the entire family circle and his friends at this difficult time. The writings of Seamus Heaney transcended all generations and boundaries and have been extensively quoted by world leaders, including Bill Clinton on his visit to Derry in 1995.

"Just a couple of weeks ago as part of the fleadh in Derry I attended a performance by Seamus Heaney and Liam O'Flynn. The performance that night by Seamus and Liam epitomised all that is good about culture and how it enriches all our lives."

"Seamus Heaney was our moral compass when Ireland was blighted by division and violence. Today we lost a great poet and an Irishman. A gentleman who made us believe that a further shore was indeed reachable."

"Seamus Heaney's death will leave a void in all our lives. But his words have become part of our lives, and he endures in them. There is no poet in Ireland who has not been influenced by his example and is in his debt; but so is everyone who has been touched by his poetry, and they are innumerable. I join the multitude of people who have been deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Seamus Heaney."

"He was just such a wonderful, wonderful, loving and compassionate character. And so full of fun and stories and craic at the human level.

"And then there was the genius of his poetry, which made us so much prouder and taller and proud of ourselves through him. We vicariously shared in the pride and distinction that he brought to our country."

"I knew and was very fond of Seamus. He was a wonderful man as well as a literary figure of huge international stature, regarded by many as the greatest Irish poet since Yeats. Winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, he brought great pride to Ireland and has left us an immense legacy. My thoughts at this time are with Seamus' wife Marie and family."

"Over 40 and 50 years, Heaney became a kind of giant in the world of poetry. And it's not that you think of these people as indestructible, but it is somehow inconceivable that they should die and I found myself having a very odd irrational kind of reaction when I heard the news this morning. The thought that came into my head was: 'What are we going to do now?' It was a sort of sense that something wonderful had been lost."

"Very sad news about the death of Seamus Heaney. He did a joint poetry reading with Michael Longley just two weeks ago at the Merriman Summer School in Lisdoonvarna, which people were still moved by when I arrived later. Wish I had been able to be there – a truly unique evening with two truly great talents."

"Queen's University is deeply saddened by the news of Seamus Heaney's death and extends sincere sympathy to his wife Marie, and their three children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

Seamus was not only a former student, professor and honorary graduate of Queen's, but also a true friend of the university. Generous with his scholarship and his time, his warmth, humour and brilliance will be sorely missed.

"At Queen's we have been truly privileged to have known Seamus as a student, staff member and Nobel Laureate and will miss him greatly."

"I think it is a big loss but also a big legacy. The same way you could read the heartache and heartbreak in his poetry which covered the darker years here, he also got to live to see and to eulogise the peace. I think it is a time of great sadness but at the same time it is a time that we should celebrate all that he has left us with."

"It is with deep sadness that we learned of Seamus Heaney's death today. He had a long-standing relationship with Trinity, having been an honorary Fellow since 1998.

"Many of us who had the privilege to know him formed a deep respect and admiration for this great poet, who was also a gentleman in every way."

Belfast Telegraph


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