Not far from the northern shore of Lough Neagh, as busy national roads give way to local routes and byways, the poetic pilgrim’s progress will bring them to Bellaghy, Co. Derry. This is Heaney country, the ‘place of clear water, the first hill in the world.’ After spending his early years in Mossbawn just a few kilometres away, Seamus Heaney moved to this small village and began to put down roots in the landscape for which he would eventually craft a rich literary narrative. Heaney scholars estimate that over half of his poetry is set within a ten-mile radius of his birthplace, and places like The Wood, Anahorish, Magerhafelt, Lough Beg and Lough Neagh are way markers as readers search for the poet’s influences and inspiration. Heaney’s poetry is ‘earth-hugging,’ as he put it, and possesses an intangible quality embedding it as deeply in the land as the turf cut in Toner’s Bog or the stepping stones in the Moyola riverbed.
Seamus Heaney: HomePlace is a celebration of the life and work of the Nobel Prize winning poet and one of Ireland’s most beloved writers. Far from being an ossified shrine, this art and literary centre on Main Street places Heaney’s writing alongside the literature, music and theatre of others who continue to draw inspiration from his work. Heaney thought of his life as ‘a series of ripples widening out from an original centre.’ In HomePlace visitors stand upon that fulcrum, the centre point which set the tone for his poetry, the finely-wrought words that would follow those early days ‘between oak tree and slated roof.’
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