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Personal and Public: A Tribute to Seamus Heaney

On Friday 20th February, the Bluecoat presented A Tribute to Seamus Heaney to honour the memory of poet, Seamus Heaney, who sadly and unexpectedly died at the end of August.

A packed audience heard a lament played on the Uilleann pipes by Simon Doyle followed by Linda McDermott of BBC Radio Merseyside reading ‘Digging’, the first poem in Heaney’s debut collection.  A poetic appreciation of Heaney’s work, commissioned for the event from Vona Groarke, poet and leader of the Creative Writing programme at Manchester University,  concluded a programme which featured Dr Frank Shovlin of University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, Professor Vic Merriman of Edge Hill University, poet Dr Gladys Mary Coles, actors Cathy Butterworth and Paul O’Hanrahan, and tenor Johnny Kennedy.

Seamus Heaney was a poet whose work had roots in family and locality but spanned local, national and international terrain. For fifty years he consistently published poetry of remarkable quality, combining precise observation and emotional depth with great deft and verve.

Heaney was not only an inspirational artist but also a genial, warm-hearted and humorous human being.  He brought the figure of the poet back into the heart of society, creating a space for poetry at the centre of public life.   Politicians heeded him, the media followed him, and everyone who came into contact with him considered him a friend.   

The evening was an opportunity to share memories of a fine man and a great poet.   As part of Ireland’s Culture Night, it was made possible by the Bluecoat’s good friends and partners the Irish in Britain (formerly Federation of Irish Societies), Irish Community Care Merseyside (ICCM), St Michael’s Irish Centre, the University of Liverpool Institute of Irish Studies and Liverpool Irish Festival. 


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About the Bluecoat

Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. As the most ...

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