Louis MacNeice




Louis MacNeice is buried in the Church of Ireland Church, Carrowdore, Co.Down, Northern Ireland. (Carrowdore is a small village on the Ards Peninsula on the east coast of Co. Down.)


Gravestone of Louis MacNeice

MacNeice died unexpectedly of pneumonia in 1963 following a visit to a  damp cave in Yorkshire. He had been undertaking research for one of his own radio plays.

He is buried beside his mother (who died of TB when he was a child) and his grandfather.

MacNeice was born in Belfast and was the son of the rector of Trinity (later bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore). His family later moved to Carrickfergus in Co. Antrim. MacNeice's famous poem Carrickfergus vividly recalls his childhood here.

Carrowdore Church
Photographs by Bill Cardwell

During the 1930s and 1940s he was closely linked with fellow poets W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis and Roy Campbell nicknamed them collectively MacSpaunday. However, MacNeice's reputation was overshadowed by that of Auden.

MacNeice liked to celebrate, what he called, 'the drunkenness of things being various' (a line from his poem Snow). His poetry also frequently employed assonance and internal rhyme eg River in Spate.

Fellow Ulster poet Derek Mahon wrote an elegy for MacNeice entitled: In Carrowdore Churchyard. MacNeice's work also influenced other Northern Ireland poets including Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon.

The Burning Perch, MacNeice's last collection, was published a few days after his death.

Maybe we knew each other better
When the night was young and unrepeated
And the moon stood still over Jericho.

So much for the past; in the present
There are moments caught between heart-beats
When maybe we know each other better.

But what is that clinking in the darkness?
Maybe we shall know each other better
When the tunnels meet beneath the mountain.







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