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Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Heaney attends library opening

Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney: Library is important resource
Nobel Poetry Prize winner Seamus Heaney has officially opened a new multi-million pound extension to a historic Belfast library.

The County Londonderry poet, who won two prestigious Whitbread prizes last year for his translation of epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, was applauded as he was escorted into the Linenhall Library by a band of pipers.

Mr Heaney said the library, which was founded more than 200 ago, was a historical landmark which had a special significance.


This is a place where historical archive, literary record and creative possibility are all situated

Seamus Heaney
He added: "It was been described as a breathing hole in the ice.

"That was at an iced up time, this is a time when there's more breathing going on in the soul of individuals and society in general.

"This is a place where historical archive, literary record and creative possibility are all situated.

"It is important because it is a serious place which represents possible future harmonies and energies. It is also important because people like it."

Seamus Heaney also launched the library's Millennium Festival, which runs until 24 September.

The Linenhall Library, situated opposite Belfast's City Hall, is the city's oldest library, lending books since 1788, and houses extensive local history and literature collections.

It is also has a large newspaper archive.

It is private, but is open to the public for reference purposes.

One of the workmen constructing the library's new extension died earlier this year when he fell 30 feet from scaffolding.

He was Gerard Johnston, a 61-year-old pipe fitter from Slievemore in the Lower Falls area of west Belfast.

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