Seamus Heaney dies

The Derry-born poet Seamus Heaney, has died at the age of 74, the BBC is reporting on its website.

Added at 12:27pm Friday

President Michael D Higgins said:

“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.

The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world.

Long before his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which Sabina and I, and the late Davy Hammond attended with him as his guests, we were aware of his grace and his generosity. His careful delving, translation and attention to the work of other poets in different languages and often in conditions of unfreedom, meant that he provided them with an audience of a global kind. And we in Ireland gained from his scholarship and the breath of his reference.

Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus’ poems. Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience.

To Seamus and Marie and their family I send deepest sympathy; for theirs is the greatest loss of such a great and loving person.”

Amnesty International response

Speaking following the passing of Seamus Heaney, Amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman said:

“Seamus was a warm, generous and compassionate man who will be deeply missed by all who knew him, and by everyone who was ever touched by his work.

“In 1985 Seamus Heaney wrote the poem, From the Republic of Conscience, for Amnesty International to mark International Human Rights Day. It has since inspired a generation of human rights activists around the world.

“Seamus was a true ambassador of conscience, a man whose empathy for the powerless and the marginalised was matched by his magnificent capacity to construct language which demanded a deep reflection on what it means to be human.

“His words will continue to inspire countless generations to come, and we will miss him."