“for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”
Heaney, unlike his Nobel Prize winners in Literature counterparts, was born in Northern Ireland, on a small farm in County Derry.
The poet’s work is infused with the tensions of his upbringing, from the political tensions in his area, to his inner conflict between “the pen” and “the spade,” the life and purpose of a poet as opposed to the duty and responsibility of a farmer, such as his father.
His most famous collections of poetry include his first, "Death of a Naturalist" (1966), "Seeing Things" (1991) and "The Spirit Level" (1996).
“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.”
- From “Digging”
My passport's green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
To toast The Queen.”
- From “Open Letter”
1998 – Peace (shared with David Trimble of the U.K.)
“for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland”
The most recent Irish winner of the Nobel Prize is John Hume, former leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, who shared his prize with David Trimble, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and first First Minister of Northern Ireland. The men are recognized as two of the principle architects of the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s.
Always an opponent of violence, Hume worked tirelessly for peace in Northern Ireland throughout his political career. For reaching out to Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, he was savaged by sections of the British and Irish media, criticism which affected his health. But the results of his work can be seen today: a peaceful and stable Northern Ireland.
Mary McAleese, President of the Republic of Ireland, has praised the role of the Nobel Peace Prize in the Northern peace process. Her commentary is covered on IrishTimes.com