Development & Alumni Relations Office 

'SEAMUS HEANEY AND THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS'  Seamus Heaney profile portrait

21 July 2020

Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), in partnership with the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's, presents an exclusive free screening on the QFT Player of Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens.

The 90-minute documentary film will be available to watch worldwide for the first time from Friday 24 (from just after midnight on Thursday night) until Sunday 26 July. In addition, viewers can also enjoy an accompanying short film, In Conversation: Catherine Heaney and Glenn Patterson.

Originally screened in November 2019 by BBC Two’s Arena programme, Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens offers a poignant insight into the life and work of the eminent Queen’s graduate, honorary graduate, former member of University staff, and Nobel Laureate, widely recognised as one of Ireland’s greatest poets.

Seamus Heaney HomePlace – the award-winning arts and literary centre dedicated to the poet’s life and work and located in his home village of Bellaghy, County Derry – held a screening of the film in December 2019 which was attended by the Heaney family, friends, BBC representatives and others.  

Brought up in a farming family in rural Northern Ireland, Seamus Heaney became the finest poet of his generation and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, but his career coincided with one of the bloodiest political upheavals of the twentieth century, the Northern Irish ‘Troubles.’

Almost seven years after his passing on 30 August 2013, Seamus Heaney's wife Marie, and his three children – Michael, Christopher and Catherine – talk about their family life and read some of the poems he wrote for them. And, for the first time, his four surviving brothers – Hugh, Charlie, Colm and Dan – remember their childhood and the shared experiences that inspired many of Seamus’s finest poems.

What emerges is an intimate portrait of the poet and an insight into how his work continues to resonate today.

Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens is a DoubleBand Films production in association with Lone Star Productions for BBC Arts, BBC Two and BBC Northern Ireland made with funding from Northern Ireland Screen. The Executive Producer is Michael Hewitt and the Director is Adam Low. The film is produced by Dermot Lavery and Martin Rosenbaum.

Born in 1939 in Mossbawn near Castledawson, Seamus Heaney attended St Columb’s College in Derry, before commencing his undergraduate studies at Queen’s in 1957. He graduated with a first class BA in English (1961) and lectured in the School of English from 1963-72. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the University in 1982 and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.  

During the current coronavirus lockdown, the QFT Player offers patrons free movies and documentaries, exclusive events, new releases and classics from the archive. Queen's Film Theatre is scheduled to reopen on Friday 7 August. 

‘Seamus Heaney and the music of what happens’ will be available to watch worldwide (free of charge, no subscription) on the QFT Player this weekend (24-26 July). Find out more on the QFT website, where the live link will be added on Friday 24 July.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Image credit (above): Portrait of Seamus Heaney by Antonio Olmos.          

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