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Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney was born in April 1939 the eldest member of a family which would eventually contain nine children His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland but the fathers real commitment was to cattle-dealing There was something very congenial to Patrick Heaney about the cattle-dealers way of life to which he was introduced by the uncles who had cared for him after the early death of his own parents The poets mother came from a family called McCann whose connections were more with the modern world than with the traditional rural economy her uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill and an aunt had worked in service to the mill owners family The poet has commented on the fact that his parentage thus contains both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution indeed he considers this to have been a significant tension in his background something which corresponds to another inner tension also inherited from his parents namely that between speech and silence His father was notably sparing of talk and his mother notably ready to speak out a circumstance which Seamus Heaney believes to have been fundamental to the quarrel with himself out of which his poetry arises Heaney grew up as a country boy and attended the local primary school As a very young child he watched American soldiers on manoeuvres in the local fields in preparation for the Normandy invasion of 1944 They were stationed at an aerodrome which had been built a mile or so from his home and once again Heaney has taken this image of himself as a consciousness poised between history and ignorance as representative of the nature of his poetic life and development Even though his family left the farm where he was reared it was called Mossbawn in 1953 and
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