Tributes were today paid to Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney as he reached his 70th birthday.
Arts Minister Martin Cullen said the award winning poet captures the messages of humankind and interprets them lyrically.
“Seamus Heaney has made and continues to make an extraordinary contribution to our cultural life,” said Mr Cullen.
“I want to extend my sincere congratulations to him as he celebrates his 70th birthday.
“Seamus Heaney has made us all extraordinarily proud of his wonderfully creative genius, which has been acknowledged around the globe, not least with his Nobel Prize for Literature.”
Born in County Derry, Heaney’s first collection of poems was 'Death Of A Naturalist', which appeared in 1966.
His subsequent poetry, criticism and translations, including 'Beowulf' in 1999, have helped to establish him as one of the leading poets now at work.
Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 for what the Nobel committee described as “works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”.
Earlier this month a life-size bronze sculpture depicting one of his most famous poems, 'Digging', was unveiled at his birthplace in the village of Bellaghy.
And last month Heaney also received the David Cohen Prize for Literature, which honours a living writer from the British Isles for a lifetime’s achievement in literature.
“Seamus captures the messages of humankind,” added Minister Cullen.
“He captures them and interprets them lyrically for us.
“He was and he remains a true gatherer of values, a talented and honest reflector of our lives and our surroundings.”
A special day of celebrations have been organised by RTE and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, which will be broadcast live for radio listeners.
Meanwhile an exhibition featuring an extensive display of books on which Heaney collaborated will open to the public at IMMA tomorrow and run until June 14. Admission is free.