Anyone planning a visit to Ireland must seriously consider taking a trip to HomePlace, the interactive exhibition of the life and work of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Seamus Heaney.
Since opening its doors three years ago, the Seamus Heaney HomePlace has pulled in thousands of literature lovers from around the world, hosted presidents and princes, featured the biggest names in the Irish arts scene and changed the artistic and cultural landscape of Northern Ireland.
Located in Bellaghy, County Londonderry, where the world-famous poet spent his formative years and from where he drew so much inspiration, HomePlace is both an exhibition and a performance space where new and exciting works echo Heaney’s words and pay tribute to his genius.
Its interactive exhibition, arranged over two floors, immerses you in a journey through the Nobel Laureate’s life and work. Hundreds of personal stories, photographs and artefacts reveal the man and writer and let you learn about the words, rhythm and rhyme that made Heaney the most widely published poet in the English language.
A HomePlace highlight is the attic study where a specially created film portrays the reaction to Heaney being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995. It is reminiscent of Seamus Heaney’s own Dublin study, complete with personal items that surrounded him while he worked there.
The library contains hundreds of books from the writer’s own collection, while at the heart of the HomePlace experience is a theatre space, the Helicon, where young and old can be challenged and inspired, entertained and moved.
Since 2016, a raft of new work has been created specifically for HomePlace by leading cultural figures such as dancer Jean Butler, artist Dorothy Cross, actor Stephen Rea, poet Paul Muldoon and the Abbey Theatre.
Among the events planned for early 2019 are Booker Prize-winning novelist Anne Enright in conversation, and a performance of The Suitcase by Jane Coyle in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day 2019.
An afternoon with Dublin-born novelist, dramatist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle and a guided coach tour of the country landscape made famous by Seamus Heaney’s poetry in the company of Heaney specialist Eugene Kielt are planned. There will also be a number of musical performances including the Ulster Orchestra, David Kitt and Luka Bloom, as well as poetry readings.
Just a 40-minute drive from either Belfast or Derry~Londonderry, HomePlace is situated in a gentle rural landscape – Heaney Country – on the main route linking the two cities.
The poet’s grave is located down the road at St Mary’s Church, and nearby the ‘Turf Man’ sculpture interprets ‘Digging’, one of Heaney’s most famous poems.
Written by Andrew Moore