Tag Archives: The Troubles

How Seamus Heaney Dug into Language

Seamus Heaney at University College Dublin,  2009 (Photo: Sean O'Connor)

Seamus Heaney at University College Dublin, 2009 (Photo: Sean O’Connor)

Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away Friday. He was 74-years-old. The poet won numerous writing awards, including the Nobel Prize.

“I met him when I was a teenager,” says another Irish poet Paul Muldoon, about his friend. “I was about 16 at the time and he was 28 and already a very famous poet.”

Muldoon talks about how violence during The Troubles in Northern Ireland affected Heaney’s work. Indeed the Troubles seeped into many of the poems that Heaney wrote throughout his life.

But Muldoon says Heaney, “Refused, despite a certain amount of pressure, to come out on one side or the other. There were moments where he was more decisively asserting his more nationalist background when he describes how, ‘No glass has ever been raised to toast the queen of England.'”

Muldoon says it’s very difficult to for people in the US to understand what an extraordinary role Seamus Heaney as a poet had in Irish life.

Listen below to Paul Muldoon reading Seamus Heaney’s famous poem, “Digging.”



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Northern Ireland’s Past Through a Father’s Lens and Son’s Songs


Belfast (Photo: Bobbie Hanvey)

Belfast (Photo: Bobbie Hanvey)

Guest post from my Big Show colleague April Peavey

Northern Ireland had more than its share of sectarian violence in the time known as The Troubles.

The story’s been told more that a few times.

But now it’s being told through one family’s songs and photographs.

The pictures were taken in the 1970s and 80s by award-winning photojournalist Bobbie Hanvey.

Steafán Hanvey (Photo: Steafán Hanvey's website)

Steafán Hanvey (Photo: Steafán Hanvey’s website)

And his son, Steafán Hanvey wrote the songs, inspired by his dad’s photos.

As Steafán told me it’s “the sound of somebody trying to make sense of a chaotic environment.”

Steafán is out on the road promoting his new album, Nuclear Family, and his dad’s photos.

The project is called “Look Behind You! A Father and Son’s Impressions of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.”

Steafán Hanvey remembers growing up with his dad’s photos all around.



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