It’s been a week now since we lost our greatest scribe Seamus Heaney, and I’ve watched a steady stream of people come to City Hall to pay their own personal tributes to a man who has left an indelible mark on our great city. Hundreds of people have signed the book of condolence in the reception of City Hall as Belfast came together as one family to mourn his passing and celebrate his life.
Full marks must go to Stephen Douds of the Lyric Theatre who last week put an evening together in a heartbeat, exactly the type of generous and spontaneous response to grief which enriches us all. And with the Lyric team full-out with their plans to bring the stupendous Brendan at the Chelsea to New York, the city salutes them for making space for Seamus.
I had the great honour of reading the harrowing lament An Chéad Mháirt den Fhómhar during the evening of celebration for all that Seamus Heaney gifted Ireland and the world.
If you’ve not had a chance to sign the book of condolence and would like to, it will remain open at City Hall tomorrow (Saturday 7 September) from 9am – 4pm.
Culture and art plays such an important part in our city’s fabric and later this month we’ll be celebrating all that is great and diverse about Belfast. On Belfast Diversity Day on Sunday 29 September we will raise a glass to all the different traditions, cultures, cuisines, colours, music, and people of Belfast. Our festivities will take place the day after my installation dinner and will mark our thanks to the city for all it has given us with a special nod to the migrants to Belfast and the ethnic minorities who are helping to build Belfast.
The day will end with a blessing by our eight wonderful chaplains. I’ve been invited to spend time with them all in the weeks ahead and have had the good fortune to spend some time meditating and listening to my Buddhist chaplain Ryushin Paul Haller at the Black Mountain Zen Centre. As regular readers will know, I don’t do enough listening and rarely pause. You can take it, therefore, that both were good for my soul!
Belfast Lord Mayor page