The Archbishop of Dublin has led the tributes to poet Seamus Heaney ahead of his funeral in the city and burial in his native Derry.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin led mourners at the removal of Heaney’s body to Donnybrook’s Sacred Heart Church.

The Nobel prize winner passed away unexpectedly on Friday, after a short illness, at the age of 74.

The Irish Independent reports that his coffin was carried into the church by Heaney’s two sons, Michael and Christopher, by his brother-in-law Barry Devlin and by two of Heaney’s five brothers who were all in attendance, Colm, Charlie, Pat, Dan and Hugh.

Archbishop Martin placed a copy of the bible on top of the coffin, saying it was fitting for Heaney to have these words with him now, ‘his life was built around words’.

Leading the prayers, Archbishop Martin said: “Seamus Heaney was a great man, yet always a man of kindness and humility and a seeker of what is deepest in our common humanity.

“Greatness and graciousness belonged together in him.”

Fr Kevin Doran, who delivered the homily, said: “It strikes me that the hermit and the poet probably have much in common: the need for solitude; the deep-down awareness of things and the self-discipline to spend hours in contemplation.

“The body of Seamus is at the heart of our gathering this evening and, in that sense, he is the focus of our gathering. In another sense, however, the funeral is all about the family.

“You have had your time for laughing and your time for embracing – and you will have them again. But this is your time for mourning. Our prayers this evening are for you Marie, Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.”

The report states that as Fr Doran spoke, the family linked hands together in the front pew.

Fr Doran added: “This evening we give thanks to God for the gift of poetry which was so rich in Seamus and which he richly shared with us.

“As the hind longs for the streams’, he never ceased to contemplate the mystery of our humanity. My prayer for him is that, in the light of his own Easter, he might be overjoyed to find how rich that mystery is.”

Mourners included poets Paul Muldoon, Theo Dorgan, Paula Meehan, Joseph Woods, Gerard Dawe, Peter Fallon, Peter Sirr, Enda Wyley, Brendan Kennelly, Leland Bardwell, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Julie O’Callaghan, Maurice Harmon, Pat Boran, Philip Casey, Thomas Lynch, Tom McCarthy, Greg Delanty and Michael O’Loughlin.

Also in attendance were the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, Minister for Health James Reilly, and Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan; broadcasters Gay Byrne, John Bowman, John Kelly, Mike Murphy; press ombudsman John Horgan, producer Noel Pearson, former director of the National Library Pat Donlon, Fr Brian D’Arcy, artist Anne Madden, composer Michael Houlihan, Fiach Mac Conghail, director of the Abbey Theatre, Garry Hynes, director of Druid Theatre, Orla McBride, director of the Arts Council, novelist Christine Dwyer Hickey, producer John McColgan and journalist Nell McCafferty.


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