Northern Ireland news

Ireland's 'artistic community' gather for funeral of Belfast poet Ciaran Carson

Family and freinds attend the funeral of the poet Ciaran Carson at St Therese of Lisieux Church on the Somerton Road, Belfast. Picture by Mark Marlow.

IRELAND'S "artistic community" converged in Belfast yesterday to bid farewell to renowned poet Ciaran Carson.

Commandant Dorothy Donnelly joined hundreds of mourners at St Therese of Lisieux Church on the Somerton Road on behalf of fellow poet, President Michael D Higgins, yesterday morning - a day after what would have been his 71st birthday.

Fr Paul Morely told them the funeral Mass would "celebrate the gift of his very talented life as a craftsman of words both in story and in poetry".

His friend Paul Muldoon read the Robert Frost poem `After Apple-Picking' and Fr Morely quoted author John Banville's tribute to Carson as being "like the Irish language poets of the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries - a kind of journeyman poet, who makes poetry out of the everyday things of life".

The priest said "for Ciaran's family his death is a big loss of love, and for the literary world it's a big loss of a genius".

"It would be impossible in this short homily to begin to summarise the creative genius of Ciaran.

"From his first publication `The New Estate', his publications include 23 books of poems, prose and translations and his final work titled `Still Life' will come out next week.

"He won the TS Eliot prize, a Forward prize and was long listed for the Booker.

"The range of his work is perhaps illustrated by two of his translations - the great Irish saga the Tain, on the one hand, and Dante's Inferno, on the other.

"His novel The Star Factory has been described as probably the best book that has ever been written about Belfast."

Carson, who had lung cancer, died peacefully at his home in north Belfast on Sunday.

"Ciaran's priorities were reflected in an interview in January 2009 when he was asked by a reporter from the Guardian newspaper if he ever thought of actively entertaining an audience," Fr Morely said.

"His reply speaks volumes about his love for (his wife) Deirdre. `No…if there is an audience it's my wife. It's enough for me.'"

The service was accompanied by traditional Irish tunes in a nod to his time working as the traditional arts officer with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland during the 1970-80s, with responsibility for reporting on the island's music scene.

Fr Morely said: "On the eve of publication of The Collected Poems - Ciaran was asked: `If you could write your epitaph in no more than 10 words, what would it be and why?' His answer was: `Happy to Meet and Sorry to Part - It's the name of a jig which I've been playing on the flute for at least half my life. Lovely jig it is too. There's always another way round it.'

"Ciaran's answer says much about his humility. An award winning poet with hundreds of thousands of words to his credit chose just six words penned by someone else for his epitaph. Well-chosen words that express a loving, joyful, and grateful heart."

Ciaran Carson is survived by his wife Deirdre and children Manus, Gerard and Mary.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access

Northern Ireland news

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: