Tomorrow, DCU will honour Seamus Heaney with the naming of a new lecture theatre, and accompanying portrait, in its St. Patrick’s campus.
On Tuesday 27th November, Dublin City University will formally name a lecture theatre in its St. Patrick’s campus after Seamus Heaney, celebrating a long and fruitful relationship between the poet and the institution. In 2000, with his blessing, St. Patrick’s established a lecture series in Heaney’s name and the connection was further strengthened with the conferral of an honorary degree from DCU in May 2011. Speaking on that occasion, Seamus Heaney said, “Over the years I have come to feel at home in St Patrick’s College, having been invited here on several occasions to read poems, hear lectures, and enjoy the honour of that lecture series in my name. The welcome from staff and students has always been a warm one and their commitment to their teacherly calling of the highest order.”
The new Seamus Heaney Lecture Theatre is located in the Cregan Library on DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus. This campus is home to the DCU Institute of Education, the only Faculty of Education in an Irish university. Established in 2016, the DCU Institute of Education came about through the integration of St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra, the Mater Dei Institute of Education, the Church of Ireland College of Education, and DCU’s School of Education Studies. “In choosing a name to associate with the most prominent lecture theatre on DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus, in a venue frequented by thousands of students weekly, the driving principles were excellence, inspiration, and connection,” said Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU. “With these in mind, only one name was ever considered. I am very grateful to the Heaney family for allowing us name the lecture theatre in honour of Seamus. It will serve as an inspiration to many, many thousands of students and remind them not only of the beauty and power of his art but also of his affinity to teaching and the institution in which they study.”
The formal naming ceremony will also see the unveiling of a magnificent portrait drawing of Seamus Heaney by the renowned artist Colin Davidson. “In naming the lecture theatre, we wanted to go much further than a name on a wall,” said Professor MacCraith. “We wanted an appropriate image or symbol that would attract the passing student or visitor by its power and beauty.” The resulting work will hang outside the lecture theatre, reminding all who pass it of the enduring connection between Heaney and this place of learning, and his legacy not just as a poet, but as a teacher too.