The Abbey Theatre pays tribute to Seamus Heaney

The Abbey Theatre pays tribute to Seamus Heaney

30 August 2013
Image by Norman McBeath

On behalf of the board and the artists of the Abbey Theatre, Fiach Mac Conghail, Director said, ‘It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. He was an advocate for art and conscience; a true and inspiring cultural chieftain. Seamus was a generous spirit and will be sorely missed by us all.

As a poet and a playwright Seamus had a long association with the Abbey Theatre. In 2004, to mark the Abbey Theatre’s Centenary he was invited to translate the Greek tragedy ‘Antigone’. His version ‘The Burial at Thebes’ premiered in 2004 and was revived in 2008 directed by Patrick Mason, a former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre.

In translating Sophocles’ text, he drew his inspiration from the lament ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’ by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, discovering parallels between the keen of that Irish woman and Antigone. He cited W.B. Yeats, (who reworked two Sophocles’ texts in the 1920s) as another inspiration in this task. This for me offers a real insight into Seamus as a poet who was so deeply steeped within a tradition of Irish poets.’

Seamus read his poetry at the Abbey Theatre on numerous occasions down through the years. His first poetry reading at the Abbey Theatre dates back to 1972. In recent years Seamus appeared at the Abbey Theatre with Dennis O’Driscoll to discuss Stepping Stones and to read from his collection Human Chain in An Evening with Seamus Heaney in 2010. The actress Eleanor Methven will pay tribute to Seamus and read an extract from his poem From The Republic of Conscience after this evening’s performance of Major Barbara by Bernard Shaw.


Further information contact:

Mary Folan, Press Officer, Abbey Theatre, Mobile: 087 737 6288,

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