Monday, 16 September 2013

Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

The Linenhall Library in Belfast lost one of its greatest champions and dearest friends when Seamus Heaney died on 30 August 2013.

Dr Heaney was the great man of Irish letters, his literary estate is in the National Library of Ireland and he was both a Nobel Laureate and Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. He received many other awards, he had held professorships in poetry at Harvard and Oxford, Queen's University Belfast has a Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and The Independent previously described him as probably the world's best known poet.

And yet the Linenhall Library's website is also able to describe Seamus Heaney as someone who “had time for everyone he met, made no distinction of status or reputation, was encouraging to all, and possessed of a rare human touch.”

Dr Heaney's passion for the Linenhall Library, its people and its books extended back over more than fifty years and he generously devoted his time, reputation and poetry to the preservation and development of this great Belfast institution. His passion for the library is there for all to see in the delightful short film available to view at It is also there in the words periodically quoted on the library website's: “Saying the words 'Linen Hall' is salubrious and restorative, unpolluting, healthgiving...The Library is community, not a repository - it is a style, a conviction, a value.” (

At the time of his death, Seamus Heaney was due to open the new Linenhall exhibition Field work 1979: an interpretation in which Helen Heron's textile pieces interpret his own poetry. This exhibition is now a tribute to the great man. It runs from 2-30 September 2013 (admission free).

The Linenhall Library has opened a book of condolence in memory Of Seamus Heaney: for details visit:

For photographs of Seamus Heaney outside the Linenhall Library being photographed for the Literary Belfast iphone app, visit:


Geoffrey Forster
16 September 2013 

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