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Irish poet and Nobel winner Seamus Heaney dies at 74

DUBLIN (AP) — Seamus Heaney, Ireland's foremost poet who won the Nobel literature prize in 1995, died Friday after a half-century exploring the wild beauty of Ireland and the political torment within the nation's soul. He was 74.

Heaney's family and publisher, Faber & Faber, said in a statement that Heaney died in a Dublin hospital. He had been recuperating from a stroke since 2006.

The Northern Ireland-born Heaney was widely considered Ireland's greatest poet since William Butler Yeats. He wrote 13 collections of poetry, two plays, four prose works on the process of poetry, and many other works.

Heaney was the third Irishman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, joining Yeats and Samuel Beckett.

The eldest of eight children, Heaney went to Catholic boarding school in Northern Ireland's second-largest town, Londonderry.

Life in 1950s Londonderry — where Catholics outnumbered Protestants two to one but were gerrymandered from power — provided Heaney his first real taste of injustice and ambiguity Irish-style.

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