The Seamus Heaney Project


The Seamus Heaney project has two distinct yet related aims.

One is to create a poetry resource for students at all levels preparing for the Junior Certificate Poetry examination in Ireland. The resource is also aimed at a wide variety of students of any age in any country who might like an extensive view of six individual poems by Seamus Heaney.

The other aim is to use the power of the Internet to provide a template for a study of poetry which would enable students to learn how to research poets and poetry on line and how to present that research. The procedures used in this project are outlined below.


The Readings

As well as studying the poems, three of the students participated in a recording session where they read the poems, sometimes individually and sometimes together. These recordings took place in a controlled and soundproofed room after many rehearsals.

When the readings were edited, they were combined with snippets of music from the Estonian composer of classical music, Arvo Pärt. The aim was to create a soundscape for the poems which involved the sound of the student voices - many of these poems deal with childhood memories - and the mood created by music.

Some recordings by Seamus Heaney himself were also included on the site.

The Procedure

The Seamus Heaney project was designed to take eight weeks. Six weeks were devoted to detailed work on each of the six chosen Seamus Heaney poems in the manner outlined in the table below. The class had one 40 minute period each day of the school week.

Work Undertaken



Evaluation of the web site. Students look at the work done to date and propose changes, duties and assignments.




Conventional study of the poem involving explanation, explication and investigation.




Preparation of the poem for the web site by asking students to write out notes, glossary and questions.




Detailed computer work on the poem involving typing, web searches for images, information, links and biographical material.




Evaluation of the poem by compiling student responses.

At the end of the six week study of the individual poems students spent two weeks responding to the poems formally by addressing examination questions from former Junior Certificate papers at both higher and ordinary level. These responses were corrected in the traditional manner and a selection of the best of these responses were printed and uploaded on the site on the examination pages for the higher and ordinary level examinations. There are also links to these examination answers on the Responses pages that accompany each of the six poems.

During this final two week period, photographs used on the site were taken, the biography, bibliography and links pages were prepared and the readings of the six poems were recorded.


The Pupils

This project was undertaken with a 2nd Year Higher Level English class preparing for their Junior Certificate examination in a boy's secondary school, Moyle Park College, in Clondalkin, County Dublin. After an initial explanation and invitation, all twenty three students agreed to take part with the approval of their parents. (See Permission below.)

The contribution of these students is explained and acknowledged not only on individual pages on the site but also on the class credits page.



Although all students had signed an Acceptable Usage Policy as part of their computer studies programme, a separate permission letter was drafted and given to all students involved in the Seamus Heaney project. This letter was signed by both students and parents. While there were some understandable and genuine reservations expressed, particularly with regard to the relation between pictures and contact details, all parents signed the permission letters.


© All poems copyright Seamus Heaney.

© 2nd Year English Class; Moyle Park College 2007

E mail the project at Moyle Park College.

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