Saturday, 5 October 2013

Seamus and I at the Yeats Summer School


I can now reveal that I was snotty to Seamus Heaney once. This was 1966 at the Yeats Summer School in Sligo. Myself and Jimmy were having a drink in the evening at the Columban Club the apres lecture venue. It was crowded and we were standing up not far from the doorway. We were talking about Descartes as it happened and Seamus was behind us. 'Ah says he, with the Northern accent which seems to varnish all utterances with mocking drollery: 'Did I hear the name Descartes being mentioned'. 'Yes', says I, we're having a private cogito here'.

He took that as a rebuff, which it was and turned away as though he had tasted sour milk in his tay. He could have come back with a quip of his own. In Ireland, either you're quick or you're dead and an excellent recovery from a difficult position is respected. I still think fondly of the Dublinman who called me 'a fascinating gobshite'.

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