Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to Belfast poet Ciaran Carson who died aged 70

Ciaran Carson

Irish President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Belfast poet Ciaran Carson.

The 70-year-old, from the Lower Falls Road, died on Sunday.

The TS Eliot Prize and Forward Prize recipient published 15 volumes of poetry and wrote a number of books.

Mr Higgins fondly recalled travelling to the Scottish island of Iona with Mr Carson and said the latter's "love of the Irish language lasted throughout his life".

Mr Carson, born in 1948, grew up speaking Irish as his first language.

"Writing right up to the end, with the text forthcoming, he will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing or reading his work," Mr Higgins said.

In 2003, Mr Carson served as the first director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University, where he once studied.

He had also worked for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland as a specialist in traditional music and culture.

Among his most famous work was the award-winning Belfast Confetti, published in 1989.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Ciaran Carson in 1999

Discussing the poem with the BBC in 2016, Mr Carson said: "I'm involved in language because it helps you to gain an accurate understanding of the world and how it works, but that accuracy has to also apply to the ambiguity of your identity and how you stand in the word."

Roisin McDonough, Arts Council chief executive, said Mr Carson was a poet of extraordinary breadth and depth.

"His work is steeped in the presence of Belfast, its history, its cityscape, its language and its music, all of which he lived and translated into words of rare insight and brilliance," Ms McDonough said.

"Even in his later works, which had become more expansive in their scope, he remained an artist who was, to the end, made in Belfast."

Writer Glenn Patterson told BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme that his friend was "one of the supreme stylists as a poet, prose writer and a man about town".

"I can't think of a better writer about Belfast," he added.

"He chronicled the city and he was obsessive about maps, and possibility."

Jimmy Fay, executive producer at the Lyric Theatre, said he had met Mr Carson several times at the Lyric "and he was always a warm and brilliant presence - such an exceptional poet".

Mr Carson is survived by his wife and three children.