Visting the Seamus Heaney Homeplace

The new attraction in the hometown of renowned poet Seamus Heaney opened in September 2016 and the center dedicated to the work of the Nobel laureate. Catherine visited the Homeplace earlier this year to see first-hand how this center was helping to bring the words of Heaney well and truly, back home.

Dublin had James Joyce, Sligo calls W.B Yeats their own and in the small rural Plantation village of Bellaghy in Co Derry – here the legacy is celebrated of it’s local hero and one of Ireland’s top writers, Seamus Heaney.

Famed for his ability to convey the rich ambiguity, the pain, and the beauty of Ireland and its people – we visited the Seamus Heaney Homestead which opened in 2016 to journey the life and literature of the late poet and Nobel Laureate.

The Seamus Heaney Homestead takes you through the life and literature of one the 20th century major poets. Heaney was born in 1939 and raised right here in the village of Bellagh, where he returned to be laid to rest in his local church of St Mary’s in 2013.

Famed as one of the literary greats, Heaney’s work explores the life and locals of Ireland as well as the modern world, penning every day situations with such elegance which vibrantly educate readers on what growing up in somewhere like the Emerald Isle really entails.

The lines found in his poetry, plays, essays and translations throughout his life are inspired from his childhood in Derry and this evident influence on Heaney aided his international reputation as one of the greatest Irish poets of all time.

The exhibition at Seams Heaney’s Homestead is one of imaginative exploration of the hometown poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and Nobel Laureate. The self-guided tour does more than just educate on the journey of Heaney.

Its modern, interactive and engaging displays transform a visitor to an enthusiast and the enlightening experience instills a great sense of empowerment as to how Northern Ireland should be represented…

Provided with a handset so the man himself can accompany the tour of his work, you see and hear Heaney’s words brought to life with recorded audio by Seamus ensuring his famous poems are told in the way which helped make them famous in the first place. 

His personal possessions and the passionate staff found around each corner of the exhibition make it a real joy to uncover the characters and cause in his work…

 

In a career that spanned six decades, Heaney published 13 poetry anthologies, two stage plays, essays, criticism, translations and many other works. His most famous achievements was perhaps winning the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature.

Heaney is the fourth Irishman to win the Nobel Prize. W.B Yeats was awarded the prize in 1923, George Bernard Shaw in 1925 and Samuel Beckett in 1969.

The exhibition brings to life Heaney’s often warm and truthful adaptations of the beauty of Ireland in its people, places and politics. By the 1970s, Heaney was reading and teaching — and being published — on both sides of the Atlantic.

He taught at Harvard and Oxford which are also explored here…

 

An overall wonderfully fitting and moving tribute to one of Northern Ireland’s homegrown heros set right in the heart of Heaney’s country.

Friendly and passionate staff revealed Heaney’s family worked closely with the exhibition to create an engaging, informative and impactful way to spend a few hours getting to know the man and his work the way he would have wanted to share it.

And because this is all about the man himself, I conclude and leave you with a few of his forever comforting words awaiting you on your next trip to Northern Ireland…

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