A Visit To Seamus Heaney HomePlace
Seamus Heaney is one of Ireland’s greatest writers and most celebrated poets. He has brought inspiration to many young aspiring writers who hope to make their mark in the literary world. Studying Heaney’s poems for A Level English Literature began my adoration for his work. Touching many lives with his heart filling and heart-breaking poetry, ‘Mid Term Break’ comes to mind, Seamus Heaney is a name that will be passed down generations as one of the most important figures in literary history. Having a look into his life and work by visiting the Seamus Heaney HomePlace was one that I will not forget.
Located in the quaint little town of Bellaghy, where Heaney was born, is a centre dedicated to this great writer. Driving to the centre from Belfast only took 40 minutes taking the M2. The centre opened in September 2016, 3 years after Seamus Heaney died. He was laid to rest in his hometown. The building on the outside is just as interesting as the artefacts inside. It combines modern architecture with a hint of traditional Irish housing with the use of stone and wood. There is ample parking for all the visitors excited to learn about the life of Heaney.
Spread over 2 floors, the centre includes interactive exhibitions about Seamus Heaney. You can hear personal stories from family and friends, including a few global figures. Heaney was a professor in Harvard University between 1981 and 1997, earning the reputation as a great critic and essayist. See photographs of Heaney growing up with his 8 younger siblings and artefacts dating back to when he wrote his first collection of poetry, ‘Death of a Naturalist’ in 1966. One of the highlights of the visit was visiting the replica of Heaney’s attic study in Dublin where he wrote many of his famous works. On the walls you can watch a film on the reactions around the work of when Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.
The hidden gem of the centre is the creative zone. Here you can let your inner poet, author, painter, whatever you are feeling loose. Or if you prefer to delve into one of Heaney’s work, you can take a book from the library and sit down and relax. It is an area to let your imagination take over you, just how Heaney’s did. After some personal reflection, I would recommend visiting the onsite café for some tea and some tasty food from local producers. But the food is not the only local products available here. The cute gift shop contains a wide selection of products produced by local crafters such as ceramics to scarves.
I will be recommending the centre to schools as they offer an educational programme that uses Heaney’s poetry to explore science, history, and creative writing. The centre is easily accessible for coaches and can provide a guided tour for the students.
I spent about 3 hours at the centre, and it is time that will stay with me. And for the price of £7 I would do it all over again. It gave me an insight into a man, who came from humble beginnings, push himself thorough determination and love of literature to be a figure strong enough to stand with the likes of Shakespeare and Wordsworth. A credit to Ireland. I will finish with this,
‘If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way’ – Seamus Heaney
-written by an aspiring artist
‘Attraction currently closed due to Covid-19 outbreak. Please check http://www.seamusheaneyhome.com updates on when it will reopen’.