As a sign of the times, they were sent by text message:
In a tribute delivered from the pulpit, one of Heaney's three children revealed his final words: a text message from his hospital bed to his wife, Marie.
Michael Heaney said the words, "written a few minutes before he passed away, were in his beloved Latin. And they read: 'Noli timere.' Don't be afraid." That revelation opened a ripple of tears in the audience, including from Marie and only daughter Catherine in the front row beside the flower-topped coffin.