NOBEL laureate Seamus Heaney has insisted that the profile and quality of Irish writing still stands very high on the international stage.
He was speaking at Trinity College Dublin, where the new ' Seamus Heaney professorship in Irish writing' was announced by the university's provost Dr Patrick Prendergast.
The poet has a long-standing relationship with the university, and has been an honorary fellow since 1998. He expressed his delight at his association with the professorship and said he was "very pleased" to see the word 'Irish' in the title.
He said he believes the country is still producing literature of a high standard and that many young writers are coming to the fore.
"There's a lack of anxiety in writers now, both in the Irish language and in English. Just think of the novels going around from a senior generation, like John Banville – we've a terrific bunch of writers," he told the Irish Independent.
"I don't know if (writing) is innate or culturally engendered, if you have a literary culture that is going well, it's easier for it to continue."
The new position was sponsored by several of Trinity College's major donors, including Dr Mark Pigott and Dr Martin Naughton. The announcement was made during a readathon of 'Paradise Lost', which was written by John Milton after he had lost his sight. The event, organised by the school of English, was in aid of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.