Marie Heaney

Life
?- (Née Devlin); b. Ardboe, Co. Tyrone; sis. of Polly Devlin; m. Seamus Heaney [q.v.]; author of Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends (1994); also ed., Sources: Letters from Irish People on Sustenance for the Soul (1999), for Townhouse, where she works as an editor; issued The Names Upon the Harp (2000), Irish legends as children’s stories, illustrated by Pj. J. Lynch; ed., Heart Mysteries: 50 Irish Poems that Touched the Soul (2003); her name is associated with the Seamus Heaney Papers [1939-2013] held in QUB Library (Belfast).

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Works
Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends (London: Faber & Faber 1994, rep. 1995), 268pp.; also Sources: Letters from Irish People on Sustenance for the Soul (Dublin: Town House 1999), 247pp.; ed. Heart Mysteries: 50 Irish Poems that Touched the Soul (Dublin: Townhouse 2003), 144pp.; The Names Upon the Harp, text by Marie Heaney, [Irish myth and legend] (Faber & Faber 2000, 2016), 95pp., ill. by Patrick J. Lynch [contents].

Sunday Miscellany - the radio programme: ed. by Marie Heaney ́for Townhouse in association with RTE as Sunday miscellany: a selection from 1995-2000 (Dublin: Townhouse 2000), xiii, 242pp., and Sunday miscellany: a selection from 2003 and 2004 (Dublin: Townhouse 2004), xv, 290pp.; also ed. A treasury of Sunday miscellany (Dublin: New Island 2009), xiii, 350pp.

Bibliographical details
The Names Upon the Harp, text by Marie Heaney [Irish myth and legend] (Faber & Faber 2000), 95pp., ill. by Patrick J. Lynch. Contents: Moytura; The children of Lir; The birth of Cuchulainn and how Cuchulainn got his name; Bricriu's feast; Dierdre of the sorrows; Finn and the salmon of knowledge; The enchanted deer; Oisin in the land of youth.

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Quotations
Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends (London: Faber & Faber 1994): ‘Some of the stories retold in this book are among the oldest in Europe. They belong to a culture and language with a long, unbroken, and highly elaborate oral tradition, one of the most venerable in Europe. (p.ix) [...] I have included stories from the first three cycles [Mythological, Ulster, & Fenian but not historical] in this collection but have replaced the tales of the medieval kings with stories about the three patron saints of Ireland, Patrick, Brigid and Columbcille. The legends surrounding these saints belong more intimately to the folk tradition; yet they are as old as many of the earlier secular stories and are found in the same manuscripts. / It was extremely difficult to decide what to include or exclude from the book. In the end I opted for the better-known stories, the ones that I felt should be available to anyone who wants to have a [x] general knowledge of the scope and variety of Irish legend. / I worked at all times from translations, usually from a single text, but here and there inserting a detail from another source if I thought it would benefit the story. In some of the stories I had to lose certain incidents and details because of considerations of length. In others, notably the legends of the saints, I had to stitch together a narrative from several sources. My aim has been to make the material acessible to the general reader while remaining as faithful as possible to the texts. / I have already mentioned the antiquity of these stories but it is not their historical or mythological value that gives them their significance and interest. Indeed it is almost the reverse. What ensures their place in world literature is their agelessness, their value as expressions of the perennial art of the storyteller. The societies and traditions that these stories reflect have long gone, but the characters from them, the heroes, the tyrants, the troublemakers, the passionate headstrong women and men have survived.’ [End; signed August 1993; Dublin.] Also: Introduction: ‘I worked at all times from translations, usually from a single text, but here and there inserting a detail from another source if I thought it would benefit the story. In some of the stories I had to lose certain incidents and details because of considerations of length.’ (q.p.)

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Address to 46th International Yeats Summer School (Sligo 2005), reported in The Irish Times (2 Aug. 2005): ‘Beliefs and mythologies picked up by W. B. Yeats as a child in Sligo became one of the major influences on his life and work [...] in July 1872, Yeats came to Sligo with his mother for a two-week holiday and stayed for more than two years. ‘He was seven years old. The old adage ‘give me a child of seven and I will give you the man’, seems particularly apposite in this case’, she said. / ‘The boy, preternaturally sensitive and highly imaginative, had arrived in a place that is considered, to this day, to give access into the mystical world of Celtic mythology and fairy lore, a world where there was a belief in a parallel reality.’ / Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there was a great interest in the occult in the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. / ‘But at ground level, almost literally, there existed another, older system of belief, and that was the country people’s conviction that another group of beings shared the terrain with them, their firm belief in the existence of what can be called the fairy world,’ she added. / It was to this belief, she said, that Yeats was introduced in those two crucially formative years in Sligo and it predisposed him, for ever after, to have a profound interest in the mystical and the occult. / ‘He fell in love with the Sligo countryside and his imagination was stirred by the stories about fairies and ghosts and banshees that he heard from his grandfather’s servants and in the cottages that he visited,’ Ms Heaney said. / ‘He believed he saw a fairy himself outside his bedroom window and his mother, Susan, was convinced that she had heard a banshee the night before her three-year-gid son died.’ / In The Celtic Twilight, he had remarked matter of factly that Drumcliffe and Rosses were ‘full of ghosts’. / In the same work, he had quoted one of his main sources, Paddy Flynn, as saying that he was ‘annoyed’ with fairies. In that context, Ms Heaney explained, the word ‘annoyed’ meant ‘pestered’. / Among those at the official opening in the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo town on Sunday were the poet’s son, Michael Yeats, and the mayor of Sligo, Rosaleen O’Grady. / The school heard an address from Jonathan Allison of the University of Kentucky who described The Wild Swans at Coole as ‘autumnal and melancholy’. [&c.]

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