In Memoriam: Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney at home in Dublin, 1996. Bobbie Hanvey, photographer, Image bh002336, Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.  This image is part of a series of images found at: hdl.handle.net/2345/912.

Seamus Heaney at home in Dublin, 1996. Bobbie Hanvey, photographer, Image bh002336, Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives, MS.2001.039, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. This image is part of a series of images found at: hdl.handle.net/2345/912.

On Friday, August 30th, 2013, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Irish poet Seamus Heaney.  Heaney was the eldest child of nine born to a farming family in County Derry, Northern Ireland. He won a scholarship to St. Columb’s College, Derry, beginning an academic career that would lead through Queen’s University Belfast, where his first books of poems were written, to positions including Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard and the Oxford Professor of Poetry. Among his many awards are the Nobel Prize for Literature 1995 and the Whitbread prize (twice); he was made a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996.  On June 6, 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry.

Seamus Heaney with his two brothers, wife and children at Bellaghy, early 1980s.  Bobbie Hanvey, photographer, image bh002795, Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.  This image is part of a series found at:  hdl.handle.net/2345/931.

Seamus Heaney with his two brothers, wife and children at Bellaghy, early 1980s. Bobbie Hanvey, photographer, image bh002795, Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives, MS.2001.039, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. This image is part of a series found at: hdl.handle.net/2345/931.

In addition to photographs of Heaney in the Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives, the John J. Burns Library owns a small but significant collection of original manuscripts and correspondence from Heaney.  While the Burns Library’s holdings of Heaney manuscripts and correspondence are relatively modest, its holdings of Heaney’s printed works, including books, broadsides, pamphlets, cards, and ephemera, are among the best anywhere.  Heaney visited Boston College on a number of occasions, many times as a speaker for the Lowell Humanities Series.  During one such occasion, Father William Neenan S.J. introduced Heaney as “an artist who has transformed the poem . . . as he explores the themes of life, death and love” and compared Heaney to Irish authors such as Yeats, Joyce and Beckett (The Heights, November 18, 1996.)  According to Burns Librarian Dr. Robert O’Neill, Heaney maintained a close connection with Boston College, “Even after Heaney won the Nobel Prize and was in constant demand, he always seemed to find time for Boston College.  Heaney also developed close friendships with members of the University’s Irish Studies Program, especially its co-founders Adele Dalsimer and Kevin O’Neill, and generously gave of his time to speak at Irish Studies events and to Irish Studies students.  In 1991, Boston College awarded Heaney an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at Commencement.”

The Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives are part of the Boston College University Libraries Digital Collections and are available online at bc.edu/hanvey. For more information on the Hanvey collection or the Seamus Heaney Collection at the Burns Library, please contact the Burns Library Reading Room at 617-552-4861 or burnsref@bc.edu.

 

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
This entry was posted in Archives & Manuscripts, Archives Diary, Exhibits & Events, Featured Collections & Books, Flickr Sets, Staff Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s