Friday, 30 August 2013



Ireland's greatest living literary figure, Seamus Heaney has died at age 74. The poet was a Nobel prize winner and widely respected by his peers as well as a wider literary audience. Today the national airwaves here in Ireland  have been full of tributes to the late poet and readings of his poems.

Heaney left religion and faith behind early in his adult life, here in an interview with fellow poet, Dennis O’Driscoll he recalls his youthful flirtation with Catholicism…

When I was going, from first awareness until at least my early teens, I dwelt entirely in the womb of religion. My consciousness was dominated by Catholic conceptions, formulations, pedagogies, prayers and practices. Salvation, damnation, heaven above, hell below, grace and guilt, all were for real.
 So the drama of last things, the melodrama and even the terror of them were present from the start. You’d hardly got out of the cot before you were envisaging the deathbed. Soon, too, you would learn about the sacrament of extreme unction, able to answer knowledgeably about holy viaticum and the final anointing of the organs of sense with chrism and so on.
 You had your puny south Derry being within the great echoing acoustic of a universe of light and dark, death and everlasting life, divine praises and prayers for the dead: as in ‘ Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.’

‘Stepping Stones’ (Interviews with Seamus Heaney)
 by Dennis O’Driscoll  (p.471)

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