Irish Book Awards

RIP Seamus Heaney

August 31, 2013

Seamus Heaney was not just a great poet, he was a wonderful man and a great friend to everyone involved in the Irish books industry including those of us at the Irish Book Awards.  Seamus received the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Higgins in 2011 and also presented Edna O’Brien with her Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.  We are deeply saddened by his death.  His loss to Irish letters is incalculable but our thoughts are with Marie, Mick, Christopher and Catherine at this time. Ireland has lost her good grey poet and we are immeasurably the worse for it.  RIP Seamus.

Séamus Heaney with President Michael D. Higgins

To understand the esteem in which Seamus Heaney was held, you only have to read some of the quotes from fellow writers. Here are two of the best from 2011:

There are writers who come along every hundred years.  Joyce is one and Heaney is another. And we’re very lucky to be alive, to have him in our own time. His poetry is always pitch-perfect but there is something so humane about him and about his work,  the way he sees humanity, that speaks to all sorts of people.  Christine Dwyer Hickey

I’ve revered him from afar and on the couple of occasions I’ve been in his company I’ve just felt like the luckiest man on earth.  He’s a sort of exemplar of how to live, how to write, simply how to be on the earth.  I had a small moment when I sent him a poem and he wrote me a beautiful letter back which was so important to a young writer, something you cherish, and I don’t think there’s ever been a person like that in Ireland who happened to be a great poet. He is that thing the Greeks call kalos andras which is a good man. Sebastian Barry

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