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A Poet Remembered

Event Coverage

News & Events

April 15, 2014

The 75th birthday of Seamus Heaney was celebrated in the auditorium of the Science and Mathematics Center, before an audience of 125 fans of the late Irish poet. The program was titled, “Celebrating Seamus Heaney: Old Friends, New Stories.”

“We are here today not to mourn but to celebrate his life and stories of those not only lucky enough to have known him, but also those who have been lucky enough to call him a friend,” said Orson Kingsley, university archivist in the Maxwell Library.

BSU’s primary connection to the Nobel Prize-winning poet, who died last year, is Maureen Connelly, professor emerita of English and friend of Mr. Heaney, and her donation to the library of a collection of his personal correspondence, signed first edition books, photos and other material.

“The collection, combined with Heaney’s recent passing, sparked the idea of holding an event at BSU honoring his impact and influence,” said Mr. Kingsley.

The program included a discussion featuring Kevin Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Boston Globe; Dr. Shaun O’Connell, professor of English at UMass-Boston and author of a number of articles about Seamus Heaney and a companion of the poet for three-plus decades; and Mr. Robert Breen, a retired Boston firefighter and published poet who was the inspiration for Heaney’s poem, “Helmet.”

Each shared personal memories of their experiences with Heaney.

Also participating were Dr. Ellen Scheible, professor of English at BSU, who served as moderator of the program, and John Mulrooney, a poet, filmmaker and musician who also teaches in the English Department. Mr Mulrooney read passages from the poet’s published works. 

Dr. Thomas Curley, professor emeritus of English at BSU, provided introductory remarks and Maired Doherty played the Irish harp during the ceremony. (Story by David K. Wilson, ’71; photo of Mr. Heaney is from the archives; event photos by Mr. Wilson and student Steve Rowell, University News)

Dr. Thomas Curley, professor emeritus of English at BSU
Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe