A final farewell to the nation's most beloved poet Seamus Heaney
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Bono and wife Ali Hewson along with broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan were among the hundreds of mourners attending this morning’s funeral of renowned poet Seamus Heaney.
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook was packed to capacity this morning as hundreds sympathised with the late poet’s wife Marie, and their three children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.
The remains of the Nobel Laureate were removed yesterday evening to the church in the south Dublin suburb, where the funeral mass began at 11.30am.
Many relatives and friends gathered at the church to say farewell to the literary genius.
The congregation included members U2, former President Mary McAleese and writer Edna O’Brien – a crowd of such diversity that it showed the extent through to which Seamus touched people in both his professional and personal life.
Bono has described Seamus Heaney as "a great, great poet" who "changed my life".
Family friend Monsignor Brendan Devlin, a priest of the Derry diocese, was the chief celebrant of the funeral mass.
He was assisted by Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and Abbott of Glenstal, Mark Hederman.
The opening music of the ceremony was performed by close friend uilleann pipist Liam O’Flynn.
Seamus’ brother Pat took the First Reading, from the book of the Ecclesiasticals, while his brother-in-law Barry read out the Psalm to a packed church.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want,” was the response.
Sarah, the niece of the late poet, read out a poignant Second Reading from the Corinthians. “Now there remain faith, hope and charity.”
A graceful and sympathetic eulogy was read for well-loved Heaney, followed by heartfelt and personal Prayers of the Faithful, voiced by the poet’s family members.
The gifts were then brought forward by Heaney’s young grandchildren, Aibhín (5) and Anna Rose (6), followed by the blessing and breaking of bread.
The crowd of mourners was so large that some of the congregation were asked to remain seated while others first received Communion.
Bono appeared emotional during the Mass. Playwrights Frank McGuinness and Tom Murphy also attended to pay tribute to their late friend.
Liam O’Flynn took to the uileann pipes again for this stage of the ceremony, accompanied by cellist Liam Martin.
As the mass neared its end, poet Peter Fallon approached the altar to read Heaney’s “The Given Note” in a touching display of respect and admiration.
To a church full to capacity, Seamus Heaney's son Michael and poet Paul Muldoon then gave eulogies, humorous and earnest in equal measures, to say farewell to the late great Seamus Heaney.
"We remember the beauty of Seamus Heaney as a bard, of course, and in particular his being,” said Paul Muldoon.
Michael thanked the hospital staff who cared for his ‘head-the-ball’ father in his speech. “As his family, we feel luckiest of all to have had such a wonderful husband, father and grandfather,” he said.
“His last few words, in a text message minutes before he passed away, were to my mother. In Latin, ‘noli timere’, ‘don’t be afraid’”
Over the weekend, tributes continued to pour in from across the world to Mr Heaney.
Former US president Bill Clinton was among those to pay tribute, describing Heaney as "our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives" and a "powerful voice for peace".
Writer Colm Tóibín said Mr Heaney was not merely a central figure in the literary life of Ireland, but in its emotional life, in its dream life and in its real life.
Books of condolence are now open at the Mansion House in Dublin, City Hall in Belfast and the Guildhall in Derry.
Mr Heaney will be laid to rest at Bellaghy Cemetery in Co Derry.
By Louise Kelly