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At home in Ireland, there's a habit of avoidance, an ironical attitude towards the authority figure.

Seamus Heaney

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In 1989 Heaney was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford which he held for a five-year term to 1994. His collections often recall the assassination of his family members and close friends lynchings and bombings. Heaney's mother Margaret Kathleen McCann came from the McCann family whose uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill and whose aunt had worked as a maid for the mill owner's family.

He has been a member of Aosdána since its foundation and has been Saoi since 1997. Robert Lowell called him "the most important Irish poet since Yeats" and many others including the academic John Sutherland have echoed the sentiment that he is "the greatest poet of our age". M.

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