Paul O'Brien

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

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Paul O'Brien celebrates the life and poetry of Ireland's rebel poet.

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in 1939. He was perhaps the finest lyrical poet of his generation and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He grew up in the deeply divided landscape of Northern Ireland where "the lines of sectarian antagonism and affiliation followed the boundaries of the land". He lived through the demise of the ancient rural world into which he was born, and the emergence of a globalised modern Ireland.

Theatre and politics

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Paul O'Brien looks at the recent controversies over England People Very Nice and Seven Jewish Children

Twenty years on from the death threats to Salman Rushdie and the public burning of his book The Satanic Verses, there has been a succession of literary and cultural events that highlight the often fraught relationship between culture and politics. The recent furore over Richard Bean's play England People Very Nice and Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children is a case in point.

The Rising and Revisionism

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We should not let the legacy of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland be rewritten and repackaged by right wing historians.

Amid the carnage of the First World War Ireland struck a blow against empire. On Easter Monday 1916 about 1,600 men and women seized the centre of Dublin and declared an independent Irish Republic. A battle raged for six days, resulting in the eventual defeat of the insurgents and the destruction of substantial sections of the city. In the immediate aftermath 16 of the leaders were executed, and 3,500 people arrested and detained.

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