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Ireland’s Nobel Literature laureate Seamus Heaney dies

Irish poet and Nobel Literature laureate Seamus Heaney has died aged 74. One of the best-known poets in the world, he was widely regarded as the greatest Irish poet since William Butler Yeats.

Seamus Heaney died aged 74 in a Dublin hospital, said a statement on behalf of his family released by his publishers Faber & Faber Friday.

"The poet and Nobel Laureate died in hospital in Dublin this morning after a short illness," the statement said.

Born on April 13, 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland, Heaney went on to study English language and literature at Queen's University in Belfast.

Heaney published his first collections of poems, “Death of a Naturalist,” in 1966 and went on to be considered Ireland's greatest poet since William Butler Yeats. Heaney was renowned for his mastery of Irish, Gaelic and Old English sources.

Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995 "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.”

Between 1989 and 1994 Heaney was a professor of poetry at Oxford University and toured universities worldwide following his Nobel win.

"Everywhere I travelled in the world, the name of Seamus Heaney just came up in conversation," Ireland's Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan told national RTE radio in response to Heaney's death. "He is going to be really missed, in so many different ways."

Heaney is survived by his wife Marie and three children.

hc/mz (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)