Lonely Planet Writer

Seamus Heaney's poems to be displayed on public transport in Ireland

The daily commute in Ireland will soon be painted with the words of Seamus Heaney as part of a special campaign to celebrate what would have been the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s 80th birthday.

Transport routes across Ireland will be painted with the words of Seamus Heaney. Image by Leonardo Cendamo/Getty

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has launched a special two-week campaign that will see five of Heaney’s poems displayed on public transport routes throughout the country. The poems are The Clothes Shrine, Postscript, The Railway Children, Route 110, III and Squarings xxxi. All five poems were selected by the Derry poet’s family to be included in the campaign and share common themes related to journeys, transport and daily life.

The Railway Children draft. Image by National Library of Ireland

The poems will be displayed on buses, trams and trains across the country in partnership with Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart and Bus Éireann, bringing the much-loved poet’s graceful words into the lives of harried commuters. It’s an opportunity to pause the podcast or Instagram scroll for a moment of reflection before getting caught up in the daily grind.

The five poems will be displayed along public transport routes in Ireland. Image by National Library of Ireland

“Seamus Heaney is one of Ireland’s greatest and most-loved writers, and we are delighted to bring a selection of his poetry to anyone commuting to work or school, or travelling for leisure,” Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins said. “In his poetry, Seamus Heaney demonstrated a remarkable ability to reveal the wonderful in the ordinary, and we hope this campaign will allow people to take a break, put down their phones and take a moment to enjoy Heaney’s words.”

Listen Now Again exhibition. Image by National Library of Ireland

The campaign will begin on what have been Seamus Heaney’s 80th birthday on 13 April, and will run until 20 April. Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, died in Dublin in August 2013. He donated his archive to the NLI in 2011 and they’re available to the public in an immersive exhibition entitled Listen Now and Again in Dublin’s city centre. It’s a free exhibition that also includes a vast collection of Heaney’s original manuscripts, letters, unpublished works, diary entries, and photographs.