Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney to return home to Bellaghy for burial

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney
Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney

The body of poet Seamus Heaney has been taken to the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin ahead of the funeral service on Monday.

The Nobel Laureate, who died on Friday after a short illness, will then be transported to his home town of Bellaghy, Co Londonderry for burial.

Heaney was born on a small farm in April 1939, the eldest of nine children.

His upbringing was often played out in the critically acclaimed poetry he wrote in later years.

The citation for his Nobel Prize praised his “works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”.

Books of Condolence have been opened at Belfast City Hall, Londonderry’s Guildhall and Queen’s University Belfast.

Former US president Bill Clinton praised the former teacher as “our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives” and a “powerful voice for peace” following his death in a Dublin hospital at the age of 74.

Mr Clinton and his wife Hillary said they were saddened to learn of the death of their “friend”.

“Both his stunning work and his life were a gift to the world. His mind, heart, and his uniquely Irish gift for language made him our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives and a powerful voice for peace.

“And he was a good and true friend,” the Clintons said.

All tickets for a special event at Belfast’s Lyric theatre on Saturday evening were snapped up soon after being made available.

The tribute was a celebration of the life and works of Heaney – acclaimed by many as the greatest Irish poet since WB Yeats.

Speaking ahead of the free event at the theatre much-loved by the world-renowned poet, Lyric trustee Stephen Douds, said: “There has been an astonishing response to the event which reflects how well-regarded and liked Seamus Heaney was.”