Details of “Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again”, a major international exhibition that will tell the story of the work of the Nobel Laureate and one of Ireland’s most loved writers, were announced this evening (05.12.17) at a reception which took place at the National Library of Ireland (NLI).
A partnership project between the NLI, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Bank of Ireland, the exhibition will draw on the National Library’s extensive archive of Heaney documents and will feature Heaney’s original manuscripts as well as letters, unpublished works, diary entries, photographs, note books and multi-media recordings.
The exhibition, which is due to open to the public in summer 2018, will be the first exhibition to be housed in the new Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre within Bank of Ireland’s College Green complex. Curated by Professor Geraldine Higgins, Director of Irish Studies at Emory University, and designed by Ralph Appelbaum and Associates, the exhibition will take the visitor on a multi-sensory journey from Heaney’s origins through his remarkable poetic career.
Speaking at the reception, Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins said: “When Seamus Heaney left his writer’s archive to the National Library of Ireland we knew we wanted to do something really transformational to open up this wonderful archive and share it with the world. The opportunity to be the first exhibition in the historic building on College Green was a perfect chance to achieve this ambition. We are very excited to announce the plans for this new landmark exhibition now.
“The exhibition will be an emotional, intimate and inspiring encounter with Heaney’s work. At its core is the idea of transformation – from earth to air, dark to light, beginnings to completion, and the everyday to the extraordinary – and the sense that language has a transformative capacity that can help us 'listen now again' to our world and our surroundings.
“We are very grateful to the Heaney family for their generosity and support, and to our partners the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Bank of Ireland. The exhibition will be free and it will open in Summer 2018, and we look forward to welcoming everyone who comes to learn, to enjoy and to be inspired.”
Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland said: “After years of planning, extensive building work and collaborating closely with our partners, we are delighted that the Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre will open to the public next summer in our College Green buildings. For more than 200 years, Bank of Ireland has been part of the fabric of Irish life, and our buildings on College Green are an important part of Ireland’s history and heritage. Given this, it is particularly fitting that the Centre’s inaugural exhibition will focus on the life and work of Seamus Heaney, a person of immense national significance.”
Addressing the event, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, commented as Gaeilge: “Tá mé an sásta leis an gcomhoibriú idir mo Roinn, An Leabharlann Náisiúnta agus Banc na hÉireann sa tionscnamh seo. Is ceart agus is cuí dúinn ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar an bhfile agus ar an duine mar a bhí i Seamus Heaney”.
The Minister continued: “Not only does Seamus Heaney hold a special place in the heart of Irish people, he has also been a wonderful ambassador for Ireland and this unique exhibition will allow the National Library to tell the story of his work. I have no doubt that visitors will come from far and wide to visit this exhibition, and I hope they leave with the same infectious appreciation of the transformative power of poetry that Seamus Heaney dedicated his life to sharing.”
Speaking on behalf of the family, the daughter of Seamus Heaney, Catherine Heaney said: “In 2011, my father donated his literary papers to the National Library so that they would find a permanent home in Ireland and be accessible to anyone with an interest in his work. That those manuscripts and notebooks should now be at the heart of this ambitious and visionary exhibition, in this historic setting, would have meant a great deal to him. And we, his family, are extremely proud and honoured that his archive is being brought to life and celebrated in this way.”