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29 Nov 2021

“He was loved. Beloved.”

Longford writer Belinda McKeon was among the many stars of the arts world to pay tribute to her friend Seamus Heaney who died on Friday.

Longford writer Belinda McKeon was among the many stars of the arts world to pay tribute to her friend Seamus Heaney who died on Friday.

In a piece for The Paris Review Daily (www.parisreview.org), Ms McKeon recalls how, after taking over Poetry Now, the Dun Laoghaire Poetry Festival, she was appoached by a third party who told her that Seamus Heaney would be delighted to help in any way he could.

She writes: “Over the years that I ran the Dublin festival, Seamus was always there; attending every reading, himself giving wondrous readings or introductions to other poets, giving glowing encouragement to the younger ones.”

She continues: “He was loved. Beloved. Whether he was met with as a name on a page, or as a voice from a podium, or as a cherished friend or fellow artist, Seamus Heaney moved into the lives of those who encountered him—those countless lives—and he made a difference that will matter forevermore. The difference, for many, was poetry itself.”

Speaking to the Leader this week, Longford County Librarian Mary Carleton Reynolds recalled a visit to Longford by Heaney in 2002 to launch Vona Groake’s new edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village.

“ He sat and chatted for ages, he was a lovely, lovely man,” she said, concluding “he could chat with kings or with the ordinary people.”

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