4 Summer 1969

Heaney was in Spain when the Ulster riots were happening. His personal discomfort paled into insignificance when compared with the events experienced by the Catholic community under fire in the Falls Road area of Belfast: I was suffering/ Only the bullying sun of Madrid. He was spending part of each day immersed in his research, perspiring in the casserole heat, unable to escape the resultant stinks from the fishmarket/ … like the reek off a flaxdam. Evening would bring gentler sense data: gules of wine/ A sense of children …/ Old women in black shawls near open windows; a feeling of respite above all; The air a canyon rivering in Spanish’ Discussions with visiting friends are conducted on the way […]