Seamus Heaney drew on his background, his place of origin and its history throughout his career. The outbreak of the troubles in Northern Ireland coincided with his early writing. A number of his poems addressed the political and social conflict in Northern Ireland, but he always steered clear of any simplistic analysis of the situation. Heaney referred to himself as part of the troubles and set out to comment on the deeply complex historical and cultural life of Northern Ireland. He was constantly asked to state and restate his own position in relation to its political situation. The award of the 1995 Nobel prize to Heaney came at a time of renewed hope in Northern Ireland due to the 1994 ceasefire.
The accompanying image shows Seamus Heaney with fellow Northern Irish writer Brian Friel in St Stephen's Green in Dublin in 1982. The photographer was Peter Harding. © RTÉ Archives 2058/085
Heaney is asked if he feels conscripted to writing about Northern Ireland.
Heaney argues that when dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland, "people set terms that are too simple".
Heaney reads a poem about the violent death of his second cousin.
Heaney answers an accusation that he has side-stepped issues of the troubles in Northern Ireland