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Not since university have I sat and listened to an expert tell me about the structure of poems. Yet those lectures and seminars rarely opened and closed with beautiful harmonica pieces, and almost never brought a tear to half of the people in the room. Awhile with Seamus Heaney was hardly a lecture, but it was just as informative and enlightening. Larry McCluskey took us on a journey through Seamus Heaney’s life using music, anecdotes, quotes, and of course the poetry of the great man.

He read from a lectern with an image pinned to the front. I now know that was an image of a statue, erected in Heaney’s home town of Bellaghy as a tribute to him. It is a statue of a man digging – you can guess the allusion – using his knee as a lever, just as in the poem. We heard stories of Heaney’s home, and where he was brought up – before McCluskey read “Sunlight.” Heaney wrote that poem in 1975 as a tribute to his mother.

The poetry was brilliantly read, and often surprising. He read the last three words of “Digging” with equal stress – “I’ll dig – with – it” which is something I’ve never thought of. But on reflection, it seems like the only way to read it.

Having only dipped my toes in the works of Seamus Heaney, I left the room wanting to be fully immersed. McCluskey’s performance was one of the best poetry readings of the festival. I came to the realisation that only a while with Mr Heaney isn’t enough time.

Reviewer: Ben Huxley
Reviewed: 27th August 2016

Larry McCluskey

Awhile with Seamus Heaney

Awhile with Seamus Heaney @spotlites @edfringe

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Tues 23rd - Sat 27th August 2016

2:40pm (1 hour 15 mins)

From Ireland

A personal journey by Irish actor/director Larry McCluskey, through the late Nobel Poet’s best and most popular work,
a dramatic reading, with linking commentary and live music.

The journey moves from Heaney’s childhood, through his emergence as Ireland’s foremost poet,
international eminence and awards, to the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Heaney was not just Ireland’s finest modern poet – he was a colossus on the world literary stage and a wise commentator
in the long journey to the Irish peace process.

The reading ends with the poet’s powerful late work, health setback and unexpected death.

Performer's website



£7.50 (£5.50 Concession)

Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+
Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

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Venue 278. 22-26 George Street. EH2 2EP
Venue Box Office: 0131 240 2784

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