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Seamus Heaney

Taoiseach: 'Seamus Heaney's death brings great sorrow to Ireland'

In a statement this lunchtime, the Taoiseach said that Heaney “was the keeper of the language, our codes, our essence as a people”

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has paid tribute to the poet laureate Seamus Heaney saying that his death has brought “great sorrow to Ireland”.

The 74-year-old died earlier today following an ill health in recent weeks. His death has brought dozens of tributes from well known figures including President Michael D Higgins.

In a statement this lunchtime, the Taoiseach said that Heaney “was the keeper of the language, our codes, our essence as a people”

The full statement:

Seamus Heaney’s death brings great sorrow to Ireland, to language and to literature. He is mourned – and deeply – wherever poetry and the world of the spirit are cherished and celebrated.

For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people.

When he took his children to school in Ashford…. the headmaster wrote in the column marked ‘Occupation of Parent’, two small, quiet syllables…. ‘file’. As he put it himself, ‘there were no more alibis’.
Not too long ago he gifted us with his archive. Bound words…portable as altar stones…….unleavened elements.

Today, it would take Seamus Heaney himself to describe the depth of his loss to us as a nation.

We are blessed to call Seamus Heaney our own and thankful for the gift of him in our national life. He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Marie, Michael, Christopher, Catherine Anne and the extended Heaney family.

I want them to know that, on this sad day, there are no words to describe adequately our nation’s and poetry’s grief at the passing of Seamus Heaney. Nor indeed, of our shocking pride, in ár bpríomh fhile.

In pictures: The life and times of Seamus Heaney

Read: ‘Full of humour, care and courtesy’: President leads tributes to Seamus Heaney

Read: Share your favourite Seamus Heaney poetry and school memories

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