Schoolboy to take centre stage for Heaney tribute
A YOUNG pupil hopes to impress the family of Seamus Heaney when he takes centre stage at a major event to honour the poet tonight.
Niall O hAnnagain (15) says that he has been learning his lines off by heart in advance of the tribute show at the National Concert Hall.
He will be joined on stage by a most distinguished cast of international poets and musicians, many of whom had a close connection to Heaney and his work.
The Junior Cert pupil, from Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, has been given the honour of reading one of Heaney's most famous poems, 'Midterm Break'.
"I'm not an expert on Seamus Heaney, but I do know a few poems and I really like his poetry.
"I have been practising the poem and know if off by heart," he told the Irish Independent.
"It's great because he was from Derry, very close to where I live, and his language is very simple to understand and most of his poems are based on family and rural life, which I can relate to."
Niall was the winner of the Seamus Heaney Poetry Aloud Award 2013 in December.
He will read the poem in front of President Michael D Higgins, poets Paul Muldoon, Paula Meehan, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, actor Gabriel Byrne, and musicians Liam O'Flynn, Donal Lunny, Micheal O Suilleabhain and Paul Brady. The RTE Concert Orchestra will also participate.
Celebrating Seamus Heaney is appropriately taking place on UNESCO World Book Day and one of the many highlights will be acclaimed musician Paul Simon paying tribute to his friend.
Simon originally met Heaney through their mutual acquaintance, the poet Derek Walcott.
He said: "I'm a fan even more of the man than the poetry, though there are few poets I would rank as his equal."
Simon will be donating his honorarium from tonight's event to the winners of this year's Poetry Aloud competition.
Before tonight's concert, Simon will be joined by members of Heaney's family for the unveiling of a very special tapestry in honour of our favourite poet in the departures lounge of terminal 2 at Dublin airport. Along with U2's Bono and The Edge, Simon was one of six benefactors who contributed to the tapestry.
Created by celebrated Czech illustrator Peter Sis, the tapestry bears the image of a man being carried by a book parachute bearing lines from Heaney's poem 'Lightenings viii'.