Seamus Heaney HomePlace
opens 30th September 2016
Seamus Heaney HomePlace, a major new arts and literary venue dedicated to the poet, author and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) is set to open on Friday, 30th September 2016.
Built and owned by Mid Ulster District Council, HomePlace is located in the Northern Ireland village of Bellaghy, at the heart of where Seamus Heaney was born, raised, and where he drew much of the inspiration for his poetry. It is also his final resting place.
Mid Ulster District Council have designed HomePlace in close collaboration with Seamus Heaney’s family, including his wife Marie and three children Michael, Christopher and Catherine Ann. HomePlace has benefited greatly from their ongoing warmth and commitment, along with generous donations from his personal library, desk, photographs and artefacts.
His daughter Catherine Ann said:
“It has been rewarding for our family to see this project take shape, from its early stages through to the launch. We hope that HomePlace will become a hub for the local community and a destination for visitors from further afield, and that, for everyone, it will illuminate the poems and bring them to life.”
Seamus Heaney’s nephew, Brian McCormick, will manage HomePlace. Fellow poets and friends Paul Muldoon, Peter Fallon, Michael Longley, Sinéad Morrisey and Tom Paulin are all supporting the project and taking part in events.
Councilor Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council said:
“Throughout the process we have endeavored to be sensitive to Seamus Heaney and the people closest to him. We have consulted closely with his family on all areas of the development of our permanent exhibition of his life story. As a result, we believe that a very special and authentic experience has been created.”
Purpose-built on the site of a former RUC police station, HomePlace is an exciting addition within its village setting. The 2,000m2 design successfully combines modern architecture with a subtle nod to the site’s historical past, and includes an elevated viewing platform with views across the surrounding countryside – allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the landscape which Seamus Heaney wrote about so often.
The core feature is a permanent exhibition about the life and literature of Seamus Heaney, arranged over two floors and filled with personal stories and artefacts, dozens of family photographs, video recordings from friends, neighbours, world leaders, cultural figures, and the voice of the poet himself reading his own words. The exhibition is fully interactive using the latest touch screen, video and audio technology and includes a recreation of the poet’s Dublin study.
In addition to the exhibition, the centre boasts a 189-seat performing arts space, education and learning spaces, a café, shop and an annex for community use. There is also a library containing a substantial selection of books from Seamus Heaney’s home, including biographies, works of fiction and the work of other poets. Translations of Heaney’s work in over 20 languages also feature. All have been donated by the Heaney family.
A full cultural programme has been developed by renowned artistic directors Sean Doran (English National Opera and Year of Literature) and Liam Browne (Dublin Writers Festival). The programme for the first year is based around the 12 original volumes of Seamus Heaney’s poetry and entitled ‘12 Months, 12 Books’ beginning with Death of a Naturalist in October 2016, and finishing with Human Chain in September 2017.
“This building, the HomePlace, will become an echo chamber for the poet’s beautiful lines.”
Poet and friend of Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley.