Life

Radio review: Charting Seamus Heaney's life in poetry

Nuala McCann

Today with Sean O'Rourke RTÉ Radio 1

The Ryan Tubridy Show

It's a collection for long-time lovers and first timers alike.

Seamus Heaney's 100 poems chart a life in poetry from his very first poem to his very last.

His family selected these offerings and his wife, Marie, and daughter, Catherine, were in the RTE studio with Sean O'Rourke to talk about them.

Heaney died suddenly and unexpectedly in August 2013. He was 74.

Marie Heaney touched on a grief borne under the spotlight of his fame – former US president Blll Clinton and singer Paul Simon were among those who sympathised.

“In an odd way, it made life simpler because it was so public. I couldn't give in,” she said. It was the amazing support of family that got her through, she said.

There were to have been a selection of 75 poems for the poet's 75th birthday but that was not to be. These choices have resonance in that they were made by those he loved most.

The poems feature in an exhibition about the poet - Listen now again - at the new Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre, College Green... well worth a visit.

Dark tourism is about places that deal with death and suffering. Dr Gillian O'Brien has an endless list of such sites around Ireland.

Some of it jars. Jails, for example, are a big draw in dark tourism – why not have your wedding behind bars or throw your hen party there? No thanks.

But there is more to it. Talking to Ryan Tubridy, O'Brien explained how showing, not telling, is the secret.

When you go down into the hold of the Dunbrody Famine Ship, she said, and you're in a group of 50 people and the hold is full, then the thought of 200 or 250 people crammed in there, children among them, is much more real.

Apart from the crush, it's the darkness. You couldn't have lights because you might spill paraffin and set the whole on fire. It's dark and it's smelly.

“Me standing at the top of a lecture room saying, ‘This was an awful thing that happened,' does not convey it in the way that just standing inside that ship really conveyed it,” she told Tubridy.

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