Heaney, Catholicism and the Hauntological: The Later Poetry


  • Ian Hickey University of Limerick




Hauntology, Heaney, Virgil, Catholicism, Spectrality


This article looks at Catholicism in Seamus Heaney’s later poetry through the philosophical lens of Jacques Derrida’s work. The theoretical focus of the article is allied to Derrida’s notion of hauntology from Spectres of Marx. During his youth Heaney was a firm believer in Catholicism but as he grew older his faith began to diminish. However, even though he moved to a more secular mode of belief the presence of Catholicism constantly returns to haunt Heaney’s poetry up until his final collection Human Chain. This repetition and return of Catholicism hints at the hauntological as the past sutures itself within Heaney’s thinking and poetic output.

Author Biography

  • Ian Hickey, University of Limerick

    Ian Hickey graduated with a PhD from the Department of English Language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick in 2019. His current field placement is as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Irish Institute for Catholic Studies, Mary Immaculate College. His forthcoming monograph is entitled Haunted Heaney: Spectres and the Poetry and is to be published by Routledge in 2021. He is interested in 20th and 21st century British and Irish literature, and Literary Theory.


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How to Cite

Hickey, I. (2021). Heaney, Catholicism and the Hauntological: The Later Poetry. ABEI Journal, 23(1), 53-69. https://doi.org/10.37389/abei.v23i1.192584