World-renowned poet and playwright Seamus Heaney has died at the age of 74.

Mr Heaney died in hospital in Dublin this morning.

He had been in hospital after suffering a short illness, his family said in a statement.

Mr Heaney was awarded numerous prizes over the years and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

He was born to a farming family at Mossbawn near Bellaghy in Co Derry on 13 April 1939.

He was the eldest of nine children to Margaret and Patrick Heaney.

His upbringing often played out in the poetry he wrote in later years.

Mr Heaney was educated at the St Columb's College Catholic boarding school in Derry.

He later studied at Queen's University Belfast, before making his home in Dublin, with periods of teaching in the United States.

His poetry first came to public attention in the mid-1960s with his first major collection, Death Of A Naturalist, published in 1966.

As the Troubles in Northern Ireland took hold later that decade, his experiences were seen through the darkened mood of his work.

Other collections included: Door into the Dark (1969), Wintering Out (1972), North (1975), Field Work (1979), Station Island (1984), The Haw Lantern (1987), Seeing Things (1991), The Spirit Level (1996), Electric Light (2001) and District and Circle (2006).

Among the academic posts he held were professorships at Harvard and Oxford universities.

Mr Heaney was an honorary fellow at Trinity College Dublin and last year was bestowed with the Seamus Heaney Professorship in Irish Writing at the university, which he described as a great honour.

The writer is survived by his wife Marie and children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

The family has requested privacy.

A funeral mass will take place on Monday at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin followed by burial in his birthplace of Bellaghy, Co Derry.

Books of condolence are to be opened at Belfast City Hall on Monday and the Guildhall in Derry.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Mr Heaney, saying that his "contribution to the republics of letters, conscience, and humanity was immense".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Heaney's death "brings great sorrow to Ireland, to language and to literature".

He said: "Today, it would take Seamus Heaney himself to describe the depth of his loss to us as a nation.

"He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents."

Former US president Bill Clinton praised Mr Heaney as "our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives" and a "powerful voice for peace" in a tribute this evening.

Read more tributes to the 'great ambassador'

Heaney reads his poem Bogland in 1976

Heaney discusses his life and career in a broadcast from 1989

GALLERY: A life in pictures