Out of the Bag

In her review of Electric Light (Irish Times of Mon, Jun 3, 2019) under the heading ‘Heaney the survivor’, Helen Vendler suggests that ‘the best vehicle for a memory-cluster is a poetic sequence. The most daring sequence in this collection, one about illness and health, begins with the childhood fantasies that attached themselves (in the precociously active imagination of the child Heaney) to the repeated arrivals of the doctor who “brought” a new baby in his bag’. How the myth was reinforced: Seamus Heaney was born in 1939, the first child of Margaret Kathleen and Patrick Heaney living on the family farm at Mossbawn. He was followed at regular intervals by Sheena (died 2002), Hugh, Patrick, Charles, Colm, Christoher (killed […]