SHOCK and sadness swept across Mid-Ulster today and indeed across the country as news spread of the death of acclaimed poet, Seamus Heaney.
Heaney, aged 74 passed away yesterday following recent spate of ill health.
He was born in April 1939, the eldest of nine children, on a farm in Mossbawn near Toomebridge, but as a child moved to the village of Bellaghy.
Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”.
Heaney’s publisher, Faber, said: “We cannot adequately express our profound sorrow at the loss of one of the world’s greatest writers. His impact on literary culture is immeasurable.
“As his publisher we could not have been prouder to publish his work over nearly 50 years. He was nothing short of an inspiration to the company, and his friendship over many years is a great loss.”
Heaney was set to return to Magherafelt in September for a three day poetry festival organised by Magherafelt Arts Society, tickets for which sold out as soon as they were released.
SDLP assembly member for Mid Ulster Patsy McGlone said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Seamus Heaney who leaves a tremendous cultural legacy to the people, not just of his native south Derry, but to the literary world.
“Seamus Heaney was the voice of this community, a man of the people who knew his community well and reflected the history and cultural richness of that community. I remember him calling into my father’s business when I was younger and being struck by his humility.”
He is survived by his wife Marie, children, Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann. Funeral arrangements are to be announced later.