New Bellaghy centre name revealed: ‘Seamus Heaney Homeplace’

Chair of Mid Ulster Council Linda Dillion, Hugh Heaney, brother of Seamus and Kim Ashton, Deputy Chair of Mid Ulster Council
Chair of Mid Ulster Council Linda Dillion, Hugh Heaney, brother of Seamus and Kim Ashton, Deputy Chair of Mid Ulster Council

The new building which is to be a focal point to highlight the life and work of the late poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, has been named and its identity revealed.

‘Seamus Heaney HomePlace’ will open in Bellaghy this September, named to reflect the physical position of the centre at the heart of the area where the poet was born, grew up and is buried, as well as its significance as a source of inspiration for Seamus Heaney’s work throughout his life.

The visual identity combines the poet’s signature with a pen, representative both of his craft and of the distinctive ‘Conway Stewart’ pen, the subject of a poem in his last published collection, Human Chain.

In the poem, Seamus Heaney describes a gift from his parents as he embarked on a landmark journey away from home, evoking the emotion of parting from his family, and yet looking to the future as he started on the next significant stage of his life at boarding school.

It also echoes the reference to the pen in what is perhaps his best-known work ‘Digging’, which was the opening poem in his debut collection, Death of a Naturalist, published 50 years ago this year.

Commenting on the announcement on behalf of Seamus Heaney’s family, his son Michael Heaney said:

“We are delighted with the naming of the Seamus Heaney HomePlace, which is a significant moment in a project that means so much to us as a family. We are especially grateful that his life and work will be celebrated in Bellaghy, among the people and places he knew so well and wrote about over the course of his lifetime.”

The project is being developed by Mid Ulster District Council, and part funded by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Chair of the Council, Councillor Linda Dillon, said: “I hope we have managed both in the name and the identity to encapsulate a sense of the man, his values and work.” Kim Ashton, Deputy Chair said: “This is a milestone in the project which recognises Seamus Heaney’s enormous contribution to literature and his international standing, and brings us one step closer to opening what will be a flagship arts and literary centre in Mid Ulster, which we hope will inspire those who visit.”