The greatest poet of our age has died today. The world-famous poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1995), Seamus Heaney (13th April 1939 – 30th August 2013) passed away today following ill health, at the age of 74.
Heaney was born one of 9 children, on the 13th of April 1939 at the family farmhouse known as Mossbawn, between Castledawson and Toomebridge in Northern Ireland. His family later moved to Bellaghy, a few miles away, in 1953.
Heaney won a scholarship to St. Columb’s College from Anahorish Primary School and in 1957 he travelled to Belfast to study English Language and Literature at the Queen’s University of Belfast, graduating in 1961 with a First Class Honours degree. It was while in St. Columb’s College that he learned of the death of his four year old brother, Christopher, from a traffic accident and which led to the poem “Mid-Term Break.”
Mid-Term Break - (Extract)
“Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four foot box, a foot for every year.”
Heaney first began to publish poetry in 1962. In August 1965 he married Marie Devlin, a school teacher and native of Ardboe, County Tyrone, herself also a writer, (Over Nine Waves, a collection of traditional Irish myths and legends.). In 1966, he was appointed as a lecturer in Modern English Literature at Queen’s University Belfast and his first son, Michael, was born. A second son, Christopher, was born in 1968 and later a daughter Catherine Ann.
Following a short spell as guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972, Heaney left his lectureship at Belfast and moved to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, working as a teacher at Carysfort College. He was also the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University from1985-1997 and Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet in Residence, at Harvard 1998-2006.
In August 2006 he suffered a stroke from which he recovered, and in 2011 he was named one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals” by The Observer newspaper.
A member of Aosdána, amongst the numerous awards that this ‘master of words’ received were the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999).
Thurles born poet, the late great Declan O’Driscoll, in his book, Stepping Stones, (published in 2008) interviewed Seamus Heaney, and was short-listed for the ‘Book of the Decade,’ in the Irish Book Awards 2010. In this book Heaney’s responses to Dennis O’Driscoll’s subtle questioning, casts an intimate light on Heaney’s work and on the artistic and moral challenges he faced, providing an original, diverting and fascinating collection of reflections, attitudes and memories.
Funeral Arrangements: Removal to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, Dublin, arriving at 6.45 pm on Sunday evening. Burial on Monday after 11.30 am Mass, remains then brought to Bellaghy Cemetery, Co. Derry (arriving there at 5.00 pm approx.).
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.
By Kathleen Blanchfield
No time to stop in this world, no time to stare awhile
At the beauty of a budding rose, or the warmth of a smile.
No time to watch the summer skies or rainbow’s pretty hue.
No time to stop and listen to the pigeon’s husky coo.
No time to linger silently and view the stars at night.
No time to stroll on moonlit strands and watch the oceans might.
No time to gaze at meadows, swaying in the summer breeze.
No time to quietly listen to the gently rustling trees.
No time to linger wistfully at soil so neatly planted.
No time for God’s own beauty, all’s taken now for granted.
No time. No time. No time.
We featured a music video recently, performed by singing star Nora Fogarty and entitled, “Shattered Dreams.” The lyrics of this wonderful song were written by Kathleen Blanchfield a poet and song writer, residing here on the borders of Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Kathleen, now enjoying her middle years, has always enjoyed writing, but back in her early years due to the then pace of living, she found little opportunity. She began taking her rare talent more seriously following the Pat Kenny “All Write” Letter-writing competition in 1995 and 1996 gaining huge recognition for her work. Gay Byrne gave her a welcome prize for an old fashioned Christmas story back in 1998, and being a great fan of both, and now finding more time on her hand, she was encouraged to write short stories, poems, song lyrics, letters and articles.
The song “Shattered Dreams,” was conceived by her observations of this atrocity on T.V. The sheer thought of people dying in this inhuman and evil way drew her to write down her feelings of grief, with the chorus becoming a real prayer from the heart. “Perhaps it is really a lament,” Kathleen explains as she thinks back to those dreadful days of 2001.
All of Kathleen’s current work is based on real life stories and family events. Many more celebrate nature and the community and are formed in a profoundly simple style, hopefully holding as she states, “the music of the everyday.”
Kathleen’s latest book of Song & Verse is entitled “The Paraffin Lamp.” Same includes the poem shown above which she has kindly permitted us to reproduce. This excellent read came about while she lived in a temporary, tiny, snug, but charming house for one year, while her main dwelling was being renovated. This same temporary dwelling ensured much less house work and gardening, latter which she greatly enjoys. Now surrounded, as this tiny dwelling was, by a haunting natural serenity, more poems and songs began to trickle down to the point of her pen, ending up materialising on paper.
Kathleen hopes to publish another similar book of poetry in the not too distant future. Her current publication “The Paraffin Lamp,” may be purchased from “The Book Centre,” O’Connell Street, Clonmel, Tipperary, or most other reputable bookshops or we can put you in direct contact with the Authoress, should you use the “Contact Us,” tag latter situated on the top of this page, after all a signed copy is always nice to own.
The Deserted Village – By Oliver Goldsmith.
Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer’d the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer’s lingering blooms delayed,
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o’er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
Before setting off on his 2500k, three month walk next April, beginning from Holycross, Thurles, Co.Tipperary, to eventually end up in Santiago de Compostella Galicia in Spain, Michael Walsh (Retd & former aide de camp to H.E. the President of Ireland), has planned another fund raising event, the total proceeds going to TÚS NUA, the Autism Residential & Resource Centre here in Thurles.
This time Michael is inviting as many people as possible to join him on the now renowned 8km Eamon An Chnoic Loop walk, situated near Upperchurch Village, Thurles.
At this time of the year, this wild, rural, yet highly attractive walkway area in Upperchurch, will be exhibiting its new season’s collection of “Spring Glad Rags.“ For rural walk lovers it is a time to renew & experience the warmth of the sunlight, smell the clean fresh air & observe at first hand ‘Mother Nature’s,’ renewing four-way seasonal cycle. So do come listen to the bleating of young lambs in the surrounding hilly fields, observe at first hand the fresh clean buds on surrounding trees & the examine the magic that is brown fern turning again to pale green, on the surrounding landscape.
This walk will take place on Saturday February 23rd next, beginning at 11.30am and the registration fee for walkers is just €10.00, all for this very worthy cause.
Note: Registration Fee does include complementary refreshments and for all further details please contact Mobile No: 087-2755445.
It is with sadness we report the recent death of poet, essayist, critic and editor, Mr Dennis O’Driscoll.
One of Ireland’s most respected critics of poetry, Dennis was born on January 1st 1954, here in Thurles Co Tipperary, son to James and Catherine O’Driscoll. He was educated by the Christian Brothers before going on to study Law at University College, Dublin, (1972-75.)
For many years Dennis was employed by the Irish Revenue Commissioners, specializing in “death duties, stamp duties, and customs.” In his memoir entitled, ‘Sing for the Taxman,’ Dennis stated, “I have always regarded myself as a civil servant rather than a ‘poet’ or ‘artist’ – words I would find embarrassing and presumptuous to ascribe to myself.”
I first ran across Dennis in late 2007, when he & I were both invited to contribute to the installation of the then new Revenue Museum in Dublin Castle. Alas, for me, it was not to be, however a poem by Dennis entitled, ‘At The Revenue Museum,’ would later be printed in a program for the opening ceremony and same poem now hangs proudly as an exhibit within the museum building itself.
During his lifetime Dennis published, in all, some nine books of poetry, three ‘Chap-books,’ (pocket-sized booklets) and a collection of Essays and Reviews. He also edited and compiled contemporary quotations on poets and poetry and indeed published a book of interviews with poet Seamus Heaney.
His poetry publications included Kist (1982), Hidden Extras (1987), Long Story Short (1993), Quality Time (1997), Weather Permitting (1999), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Prize 2001, Exemplary Damages (2002), Reality Check (2008), short listed for the Irish Times/Poetry Now Prize, and most recently Dear Life (2012). His New and Selected Poems (2004) was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.
His three Chap-books were The Bottom Line (1994), 50 O’Clock (2005) and All the Living (2008).
His awards included a Lannan Literary Award, the E.M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the Centre for Irish Studies in Minnesota, and the Argosy Irish Non-Fiction Book of th0e Year Award. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in literature by University College, Dublin in 2009.
Dennis was also an advisor to Agenda magazine, a contributing editor of Harvard Review, a member of Aosdána, the Irish Academy of Artists, and an Honorary Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.
Someone – By Dennis O’Driscoll
someone is dressing up for death today, a change of skirt or tie
eating a final feast of buttered sliced pan, tea
scarcely having noticed the erection that was his last
shaving his face to marble for the icy laying out
spraying with deodorant her coarse armpit grass
someone today is leaving home on business
saluting, terminally, the neighbours who will join in the cortège
someone is paring his nails for the last time, a precious moment
someone’s waist will not be marked with elastic in the future
someone is putting out milk bottles for a day that will not come
someone’s fresh breath is about to be taken clean away
someone is writing a cheque that will be rejected as ‘drawer deceased’
someone is circling posthumous dates on a calendar
someone is listening to an irrelevant weather forecast
someone is making rash promises to friends
someone’s coffin is being sanded, laminated, shined
who feels this morning quite as well as ever
someone if asked would find nothing remarkable in today’s date
perfume and goodbyes her final will and testament
someone today is seeing the world for the last time
as innocently as he had seen it first
Dennis died suddenly, at Naas General Hospital, now sadly missed by his loving wife Julie (O’Callaghan), brothers Proinsias, Seamus and Declan and sisters Marie and Eithne, nieces, nephews and all family members.
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.
Don’t Quit (A poem by Gerard Haughey.)
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit, rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about, when he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, you may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than, it seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up, when he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down, how close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out, the silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
In today’s Ireland regrettably, “What you seize is what you get.”