Remembering Seamus Heaney

Ten people each choose a favourite poem by Seamus Heaney. First broadcast daily in September 2023 on Niall Carroll’s Classical Daytime on RTÉ lyric fm.

Irish poet Seamus Heaney (2009)

Seamus Heaney strode the world of Irish poetry like a Colossus. When he died on 30th August 2013, his friends and family felt a personal loss, and it was a tremendous loss, too, to fans of his poetry in Ireland and internationally.

To mark his tenth anniversary, RTÉ lyric fm is celebrates his work by asking ten people to each choose and introduce a favourite Heaney poem, before we hear an archive recording of the poet himself reading the poem. The poems chosen include some of his best known and most loved, like Mid-Term Break and Digging, as well as less well-known poems, and range in theme from family and childhood, music and landscape, history, human rights, and the Troubles.

Broadcast as special short features on RTÉ lyric fm, Remembering Seamus Heaney reminds us of the power and beauty of the poet’s work.

Contributors to the series include poets, an actor, a painter, a Leaving Cert student, a former hurler and more.

Episode 1

Poet Michael Longley recalls his first meeting with Seamus Heaney and chooses the poem The Harvest Bow (from the collection Field Work, published by Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 1:

Episode 2

The choice of journalist and presenter Olivia O’Leary is one of the poems in the Clearances sequence, Clearances #4 (from The Haw Lantern, Faber & Faber), written in memory of the poet’s mother. 

Listen back to episode 2:

Episode 3

Actor Andrew Bennett looks back on some of his own memories of growing up on a farm and is struck by parallels to his own experience in the poems Lightenings #6 and #7 (from Seeing Things, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 3:

Episode 4

Luke Dolan, student and winner of the Seamus Heaney Award in the 2022 Poetry Aloud competition, chooses the opening poem of Seamus Heaney’s first collection: Digging (from Death of a Naturalist, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 4:

Episode 5

Nicholas Allen, who is Director of the Willson Center at the University of Georgia in the United States, introduces a poem that brings us back to the dark days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland: Two Lorries (from The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 5:

Episode 6

Journalist, activist and artist Orla Tinsley chooses a poem that many people will remember well from school and that has a personal significance for her: Mid-Term Break (from Death of a Naturalist, published by Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 6:

Episode 7

Poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin, who grew up in the boglands of the Donegal Gaeltacht, talks about how Heaney’s work inspired her to take more risks with her own poetry and introduces one of his bog poems: Punishment (from North, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 7:

Episode 8

Former Wexford hurler Diarmuid Lyng chooses a poem by Heaney that was inspired by hearing the traditional air Port na bPucai or the Tune of the Fairies: The Given Note (from Door into the Dark, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 8:

Episode 9

Syrian-Irish journalist and activist Razan Ibraheem, who is a member of the board of Amnesty International Ireland, introduces a poem written by Seamus Heaney for Amnesty International: From the Republic of Conscience (from The Haw Lantern, Faber & Faber). 

Listen back to episode 9:

Episode 10

Artist Colin Davidson, who painted a portrait of Seamus Heaney not long before he died, chooses a poem that illustrates parallels between painting and poetry: Postscript (from The Spirit Level, Faber and Faber).

Listen back to episode 10:

All the poems featured are also included in 100 Poems of Seamus Heaney, published by Faber and Faber. Our thanks to the publishers and to the Estate of Seamus Heaney for permission to broadcast these poems.

The producer of Remembering Seamus Heaney is Claire Cunningham and the series is a Rockfinch production for RTÉ lyric fm, funded by Coimisiún na Meán with the Television Licence Fee. The producer for RTÉ lyric fm is Eoin O’Kelly.