This coming weekend will see the people of Bellaghy and further afield celebrate the life of the great Seamus Heaney in a series of landmark events for the village.
Following the announcement last week that the a new Seamus Heaney centre has been approved for Bellaghy, this event, on the 1st anniversary of the death of the Nobel Laureate is particularly timely and fitting.
Building on the great affection for Seamus in Bellaghy, Chairperson of the organising committee Patrick Brennan says “The Poetry House has been developed as both an honorific and celebratory occasion that is mindful of the deep loss to his family and friends and to our global culture, while recalling Seamus’ good humour, the playful twinkle in his eye, his celebrated mischievous ‘chuckle’, his unique voice and his deep love of his place.”
Bellaghy Bawn will be centre-stage for the weekend, starting on Saturday morning with regular talks and tours of the site, with the history, the environment and the life of Seamus Heaney at its heart. At 2.30 in the afternoon, proceedings move to the opposite end of the village to the cemetery at St Mary’s Church where Seamus is at rest. This is an opportunity to remember Seamus in a quiet moment of reflection and to hear some poems read by graduates of the centre at Queen’s University that bears his name.
A specially commissioned Harvest Bow will then be laid on the grave, recalling Seamus’ elegiac poem ‘The Harvest Bow’ where he evokes memories of his father whose hands he recalls weaving corn stalks into bows after the harvest.
A Procession of Celebration will then move through the village to the Turfman sculpture where there will be choral music in his memory. An afternoon of music then follows, under the guidance of Magherafelt’s Gino Lupari who will begin the session with a few tunes before handing over to dozens of musicians from across Ireland - traditional Irish music through Scottish dancing, the pipes and drums and the song.