President 'deeply saddened' by writer's death at 66
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has led tributes following the death of award-winning writer, playwright and poet Dermot Healy at the age of 66.
The author, who was born in Finea, Co Westmeath, but grew up in Cavan before moving to London and eventually settling in Ballyconnell, Co Sligo, was once described by the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney as "the heir to Patrick Kavanagh".
The President (pictured below) said he was deeply saddened to learn of his friend's death. "A prolific and most original poet, novelist and playwright, in recent years Dermot had received the recognition and tributes which his work long deserved," he said.
"His work reflected a strong commitment to Sligo, the surrounding region and its themes. He had a great commitment to the Irish emigrant community in London, who feature prominently in his fiction, and a recurring theme of his work is that of displacement.
"His sensibility to the migratory experience, and the world of in-between, had made his poetic prose ring with a universal quality," he said.
"We will all miss him."
Mr Healy is survived by his wife Helen, his children Dallan and Inor and extended family.
He was a member of the prestigious arts body Aosdana and was recognised for his large body of work, including his acclaimed novels 'Fighting with Shadows', 'Sudden Times' and 'A Goat's Song' as well as his latest novel 'Long Time No See', which was published in 2012.
He was also a prolific short story writer and the author of five collections of poetry.
His play 'Women to the Left, Men to the Right' was staged at the Abbey Theatre in 2001.
Sheila Pratschke, chair of the Irish Arts Council, said the "gifted writer of prose, drama and poetry demonstrated a commitment to literature in all of its forms and his work was bravely and boldly original".
"He proved himself time and again to be a master of dialogue and voice."
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan said Mr Healy was not only among the greatest of Ireland's contemporary writers but the greatest of Irish writers of any age.
"Through his writings and his poetry, Dermot was an inspiration to many and his loss will be keenly felt by us all," he said.