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The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement

Michael Keyes, Visitor Experience Assistant, shares a highlight from the exhibition Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again

Monday, 10 April 2023
Good Friday Agreement copy on wall inside Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again exhibition

Monday 10th April 2023 marked the 25th Anniversary of the signing of The Good Friday Agreement, or the Belfast Agreement to give it its official title.

This was a hugely significant event, as it marked the end of almost three decades of violence, death and outrage in Northern Ireland. Those who lived through the twenty-nine years of the troubles will best appreciate the twenty-five years of peace that The Good Friday Agreement delivered.

Seamus Heaney was just emerging onto the world stage as a young poet when the Troubles started and the violence took place throughout his career as a poet. Over all that time, Seamus Heaney addressed the Troubles in his poetry, always steering an independent line, always avoiding being seen as a spokesperson for anyone. It was no great surprise therefore, that when bridges were being built and hopes for peace were being fostered, it was Seamus Heaney that political leaders looked to for inspirational words.

American President Bill Clinton caught the mood perfectly on his visit to Northern Ireland in 1995, when he quoted the now famous lines from The Cure at Troy:

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

Later, when the agreement was finally brokered, a framed signed copy was presented to Seamus Heaney, acknowledging his links to the peace process. It is now proudly displayed in our Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again exhibition.

The exhibition is based in the Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre on Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2. Admission is free, so why not drop in and see this little piece of history in person? The exhibition is open Monday-Saturday, from 10am to 4pm (last entry is 3.30).