Back in April of last year, at the unveiling of an Aubusson tapestry based on Seamus Heaney’s poems ‘Lightenings viii’ (which Iggy McGovern wrote about in our last post), we announced the donation of Seamus Heaney’s poetry books to Poetry Ireland.
At that event, Catherine Heaney described how her father would sit in his study, surrounded by his poetry books. These were, she said, “the volumes, from the classics to his contemporaries, that he would read, consult and work with in his day-to-day writing life. This working library was invaluable to him – it formed him and informed him – and we, his family, wanted to find a long-term home for it. When my mother came up with the idea of donating it to Poetry Ireland, we all knew instantly that it was the right decision.”
Fast forward nine months, and the donation of the library now stands at the heart of plans to create a new centre, at Poetry Ireland’s Parnell Square home, as part of a larger regeneration of the whole area, along with nearby neighbours The Hugh Lane Gallery and The Gate Theatre. It’s a tremendously exciting project – outlined in this short film featuring, among others, Joe Biden, Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon and Marie Heaney – and one that we are honoured and delighted to be part of. More details will be announced in the coming months, but in the meantime, listening to architect Niall McCullough, we were reminded of a line of SH's which feels appropriate to the moment:
"The books stand open and the gates unbarred."