“the other thing that is the other thing”

The first volume in a new Gallery Press series, Seamus Heaney’s The Riverbank Field, was sold out in advance so if you fancy owning the second in the series, a collection of ten new poems by Derek Mahon with pencil drawings and full colour reproductions of watercolours by Bernadette Kiely, you’d better get your order in. There are only 450 copies, numbered and signed by the poet, of Somewhere the Wave available. Adds Derek Mahon in Icarus, Spring ’07 issue.


  • PeaceandJustice

    Talking of Seamus Heaney – he has a Centre for Poetry named after him at Queen’s University. But he certainly hasn’t hidden his Nationalist politics under a bushel.

    In 1999 he announced that he would not accept the post of poet laureate as he didn’t want to write any tributes to the Queen – something the job requires.

    He also came out with: “Be advised! My passport’s green. / No glass of ours was ever raised! To toast The Queen”

    But he has no problem having a centre named after him at The Queen’s University of Belfast!

    On a positive note he said: “there’s a hidden Scotland in anyone who speaks the Northern Ireland speech … Scottish music was indigenous to us.”

  • Scandalous that. Because her majesty owns Queens.

  • He’s a good poet regardless of his ‘nationalist’ tendencies or no. Give a man credit where credit’s due. And if he didn’t want to write poetry to the Queen that’s him standing up for his personal beliefs. I wonder how many poets are going to write odes to Bertie Ahern?

    Also, Universities choose who they name their Centre’s after and the choice might have something to do with the fact the man was educated there for a while and the university shaped his poetry in a very significant way.

  • Dawkins

    Ye gods! Is that a Bernadette Kiely sketch? She’s a wonderful painter and I’m surprised she allowed that to be reproduced (though mind you I’m going by a tiny image image).

    Let’s hope the rest is better because Mahon’s work deserves it.

  • Dawkins-

    Mahon is great, I really liked his writing too. 🙂

  • pith


    Isn’t that great that you found something postive in Seamus Heaney to share with us? Pity it came at the end of several sentences of nonsense. Do you really believe that Queen’s University Belfast is named for Queen Elizabeth II?

    Isn’t it awful that he said he couldn’t write tributes to the Queen? Respect the man’s integrity for goodness sake.

    I couldn’t care less what Seamus Heaney’s political views are except to note that they must in part have informed his poetry. Heaney has wrought incredible beauty from the English language. That’s enough for me.

    Apologies for being rather off-thread.

  • Dawkins


    “Heaney has wrought incredible beauty from the English language.”

    Which is more than can be said of the Royal family. Or their speechwriters, come to that.

  • PeaceandJustice

    pith – “Do you really believe that Queen’s University Belfast is named for Queen Elizabeth II?”

    I never said that. The history of the university goes back to Queen Victoria. The point is that he doesn’t have any problem associating himself with a British university linked to a British Queen – as long as his name is above the door.

    I wonder when Queen’s will get around to opening an Edgar Graham centre – murdered by a Sinn Fein IRA death squad at the university.

  • pith


    What about Prince Philip’s graceful comments on the residents of countries hosting him on visits over the years; what about Prince Edward’s eloquent response to journalists disinterested in his Royal It’s a Knockout comedy caper. What about the Duchess of York’s contribution to literature through her authorship of the Budgie the Helicopter books. The current squad of royals will need no future Shakespeare to write their poetry.

    Peace and Justice,
    I agree entirely on your last point.

  • Dawkins


    Re the Royal contribution to letters and spoken language, I stand corrected.

    They certainly put Bertie Ahern’s eloquent oratory in the shade.

  • PeaceandJustice

    The university made the choice of who to name the centre after. They don’t see a problem with it, so why should you.

  • Dewi

    P&J;- who is your favourite ?

  • páid

    riverbank field.

    Seamus’s ancestors would have put it with less clunk and more feeling – Srah.

  • I Wonder

    It may interest some readers to know that Seamus Heaney wrote a very moving intelligent and poignant poem on the Kingsmills massacre.

    Of course, had he never written about such non-nationalist suffering, he would have been criticised.

    Given that in fact he did, his work, thoughtfulness and sensitivity is ignored or mocked. There’s no pleasing some people. Pearls before swine indeed.

  • páid

    Ar fhaitíos go mbeadh aon míthuiscint ann, I wonder, I don’t mock Seamus’s work.

    I’ve heard he’s said he’s the greatest poet alive as regards the English language.

    And one would pick up enough from his deeply intelligent writings to realise that he knows who he is, where he came from, and the part that teanga na nGaeil plays in all that.

    But those facts won’t stop less-gifted cunts like me pointing out that his work is primarily in the language of his people’s conquerors – the Queen’s English – , a fact he no doubt reflects on as he gets stuck in to another case of claret in the Sassanach’s intellectual HQ.


  • Dewi

    Páid !! – What on earth brought that on?

  • páid


    allai wedi bod ‘n waeth.

    I could have said Lo!

  • I wonder…

    I wasn’t even directing my comment at you or your posts at all.

    A revealing follow-up post, though! 🙂

  • páid

    Well, I wonder, the cap kinda fitted so I wore it.

    Seamus Heaney has achieved immortality whilst still alive, not many manage that. Expect his obituaries to fell a fair amount of lodgepole pine.

    Still an’all…

    The British establishment has a long, and I have to say quaintly noble, tradition of absorbing the cream of Celtic talent and using it, albeit indeliberately, to strengthen itself.

    Oxbridge has a cachet the world stuggles to emulate.

    But I compare Seamus Heaney to his cousin Joe Éinniú (who he, Ed?). Both fabulously gifted sons of Erin ploughing their millenia-old culture and tossing us nuggets from the soil.

    One feted by Albion and another feted by a few crackpots like myself.

    The Carna man though did it in Irish.

    Irish, not English.