Celebrating the life of Séamus Heaney
In the week that we lost our greatest scribe Séamus Heaney, Belfast came together as one family to mourn his passing and celebrate his life with an uplifting night of poetry, music, and craic at the Lyric Theatre. Full marks to Stephen Douds of the Lyric who put the evening together in a heartbeat, exactly the type of generous and spontaneous response to grief which enriches us all. And with the Lyric team full-out with their plans to bring the stupendous Brendan at the Chelsea to New York next week, the city salutes them for making space for Séamus.
I had the great honour of reading the harrowing lament An Chéad Mháirt den Fhómhar during the evening of celebration for all that Séamus Heaney gifted Ireland and the world and while that poem about a father losing his son is, perhaps, angrier than the occasion merited it is also a tremendously moving poem by another people’s poet, Séamus Ó Dónaill of the Rosses — 200 years back.
We will pay our own homage to hope and history at City Hall on Monday when we open a book of condolence for Séamus Heaney, with the consent of all parties.
If you don’t make it to City Hall to sign the book of condolences, I do hope you’ll make it to our Belfast Diversity Day on Sunday 29 where we will raise a glass to all the different cultures, cuisines, colours, musics, and peoples of Belfast. Our festivities will take place the day after my installation dinner and will mark our thanks to the city for all it has given us with a special nod to the migrants to Belfast and the ethnic minorities who are building Belfast.
The day will end with a blessing by our eight wonderful chaplains. I’ve been invited to spend time with them all in the weeks ahead and this morning had the good fortune to spend some time meditating and listening to my Buddhist chaplain Ryushin Paul Haller at the Black Mountain Zen Centre. As regular readers will know, I don’t do enough listening and rarely pause. You can take it, therefore, that both were good for my soul.