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The renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Heaney’s first major work of poetry was Death of a Naturalist, published in 1966. The first poem in this publication, Digging, would be among Heaney’s most famous, and helped establish his reputation as a poetic voice of Ireland. Heaney would continue to achieve acclaim though the publication of numerous poetry collections. In the mid-1970s Heaney began giving poetry readings in the United States and in 1981 became a visiting professor at Harvard University. He would maintain a professional connection to Harvard until 2006. Heaney was active in poetry readings until ill health slowed him down in 2006. On August 30, 2013 he passed away at the age of 74.
This collection represents material created through the friendship of the donor, Maureen Connelly, and Seamus and Marie Heaney. Correspondence, photographs, and signed books and rare pamphlets published by Heaney make up the bulk of the collection.
Ms. Connelly first became familiar with Seamus Heaney while an English professor at Boston State College. Heaney became a frequent speaker at her Irish Literature classes in the mid-1970s. A number of the photographs in the collection were taken in Dublin as Ms. Connelly made multiple trips to Ireland to visit the Heaney’s. After the closure of Boston State College in 1982 (the same year Heaney had his first speaking event at Bridgewater State College), Ms. Connelly was appointed professor of English at Bridgewater. She continued to invite Heaney to speak to her Irish Literature classes. In March 1990 Heaney gave a poetry reading at Bridgewater State College for a Patrick MacGill Centennial Celebration event. This event was recorded and can be found in the collection.
Related collections include material from other twentieth century Irish Literature figures of note (donated by Ms. Connelly), including Thomas Flanagan, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, Mary Lavin, and Brian Moore.