Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize in Literature award-winning poet, has died aged 74 after a short illness. "The death has taken place of Seamus Heaney. The poet and Nobel Laureate died in hospital in Dublin this morning after a short illness. The family has requested privacy at this time." a statement on behalf of the family said, via Sky News.

Seamus Heaney
The Brilliant Heaney Will Be Greatly Missed.

The Co. Derry-born poet's distinctive writing style with quiet exaltations of the everyday and potent visual imagery employed through the descriptive passages of his verse helped foster a league of fans, as well as a Nobel Prize for literature, especially in his poignant reflection of Ireland's troubles. For generations of younger Britons, Nobel Laureate Heaney will have been one of the poets encountered through the GCSE English anthology who brought the themes in poems such as 'The Death of a Naturalist' to the attention of classroom discussions.

Ireland has emitted an outpouring of tributes since the news of Mr. Heaney's passing with Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness saying he is shocked and saddened by the death of the poet. Mr. McGuinness tweeted: "Very shocked and deeply saddened to hear that Seamus Heaney, Derry man, poet and Nobel Laureate has died. My thoughts & prayers with Marie and family."

Hollywood actor Liam Neeson, born in Co. Antrim, has also expressed his heartache at the death of his country's preeminent poet. "With Seamus Heaney's passing, Ireland, and Northern Ireland especially, has lost a part of its artistic soul," he said to BBC News. He added: "He crafted, through his poetry, who we are as a species and the living soil that we toiled in. By doing so, he defined our place in the universe. May he rest in peace."

One of nine children, Heaney was born into a farming family yet studies English Language and Literature at Queen's University in Belfast. He was inspired to turn his attention to poetry after reading Ted Hughes' work and began to publish his own poems from 1962. He has worked at a lecturer at universities throughout America and Britain, including Harvard, Berkeley, and Oxford universities.

Seamus Heaney Poet
Heaney's Remarkable Body Of Work Was Reflected In His Accolades.

His first major volume, Death of a Naturalist, was published in 1966 and went to garner much critical acclaim. Heaney won the coveted Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 and as an honorary fellow at Trinity College Dublisn he was last year bestowed with the Seamus Heaney Professorship in Irish Writing, which he described as a "great honour."

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "Seamus was undoubtedly one of the greatest literary voices the island of Ireland has ever produced and a great ambassador for Northern Ireland.

"It is some consolation that his spirit will live on through his legacy of work and that future generations will continue to be inspired by his distinctive poetic voice."