President Michael D Higgins pays tribute to the late Seamus Heaney
“It is with the greatest sadness that I have heard of the passing of Seamus Heaney whose contribution to the republics of letters, conscience, and humanity was immense.
“As tributes flow in from around the world, as people recall the extraordinary occasions of the readings and the lectures, we in Ireland will once again get a sense of the depth and range of the contribution of Seamus Heaney to our contemporary world, but what those of us who have had the privilege of his friendship and presence will miss is the extraordinary depth and warmth of his personality.
“The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world.
“Long before his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which Sabina and I, and the late Davy Hammond attended with him as his guests, we were aware of his grace and his generosity.
“His careful delving, translation and attention to the work of other poets in different languages and often in conditions of unfreedom, meant that he provided them with an audience of a global kind.
“And we in Ireland gained from his scholarship and the breath of his reference.
“Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus’ poems. Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience.
To Seamus and Marie and their family I send deepest sympathy; for theirs is the greatest loss of such a great and loving person.”