Sept. 2 - Irish Nobel laureate and poet Seamus Heaney's last words to his wife, delivered via text message in Latin, were ''don't be afraid'', his son tells mourners. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Ireland mourned the 'keeper of language' Irish poet Seamus Heaney, one of the world's best-known poets and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature, who died Friday after a short illness at the age of 74. The funeral service for the 74-year-old County Derry-born writer and academic was held at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook. As well as Seamus Heaney's wife Marie and family, the Irish President and Prime Minister attended the funeral mass. Those who came to pay their last respects to the late poet included well-known faces from the world of politics, music and literature, such as Bono and Edge from Irish pop group U2. In a moving and emotional speech Heaney's son Michael paid tribute to his father and revealed the last words, Heaney sent his wife Marie via text message: "In a text message he wrote to my mother minutes before he passed away, in his beloved Latin, 'Noli timere', 'Don't be afraid'," he said. Heaney's poems evoke an Irish country childhood, with images of potato diggers and peat bog cutters, and echo the deep political splits that have divided the island. His works include the 1966 debut "Death of a Naturalist", "The Spirit Level", "District and Circle" and an acclaimed translation of the old English epic poem "Beowulf". Heaney was a rarity among poets, having won acclaim from critics while producing best-sellers. Born on a farm in Mossbawn, County Londonderry in Northern Ireland in 1939, his poems nostalgically recall the sights and smells of a country childhood. The weaving of rural roots and modern realism helped him to become the most acclaimed Irish poet since William Butler Yeats, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1923. Heaney was born in the year that Yeats died, and died in Dublin near the house where Yeats was born.