*** DEBUG END ***

‘Gracious’ Heaney mourned

06 September 2013


Moving on: a copy of Seamus Heaney's most recent collection of poems, placed on his coffin at his requiem on Monday

Moving on: a copy of Seamus Heaney's most recent collection of poems, placed on his coffin at his requiem on Monday

THE Irish poet and Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney, who died last Friday, was "a man with a great generosity of spirit", whose "poetry illuminated aspects of Irish life," the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, said.

Heaney, who was raised a Roman Catholic, died in Dublin last Friday, aged 74, after a short illness. His most recent collection, Human Chain, was published after he suffered a stroke in 2006 (Books, 26 November 2010). It includes the poem "Miracle", about the friends who carry in the paralytic man to be healed by Jesus.

Heaney's requiem mass took place on Monday at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, in Dublin. The chief celebrant was Mgr Brendan Devlin, a family friend. Both Roman Catholic and Protestant clerics were present.

In a statement last Friday, Dr Clarke, who had heard Heaney give a reading only two weeks earlier, said: "He was one of the greatest poets writing in the English language of our time. A man with a great generosity of spirit, his poetry illuminated aspects of Irish life, North and South, which perhaps many of us would not have understood without his writing."

The RC Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Diarmuid Martin, described Heaney as "a great man, yet always a man of kindness and humility and a seeker of what is deepest in our common humanity. Greatness and graciousness belonged together in him."

The Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge, the Revd Dr Malcolm Guite, who is a poet, wrote on his blog last Friday of a "life-changing encounter" with Heaney in 2002. Heaney had asked him "how poetry fitted with my vocation as priest, probed me about my deepest things, and I found myself opening things I scarcely admitted were there." He signed Dr Guite's copy of Open Ground, adding the words: "To Malcolm, with high regard: 'Walk on air against your better judgement.'"

Dr Guite wrote: "It was a moment of confirmation and release into a new understanding of my vocation, and a new daring. That phrase he quoted (from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech) has become a kind of watchword, and the unexpected spacewalk of this parish priest, the books, the songs, the poems, all owe something to a gift of wings that day."

Paul Vallely

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)