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A festival named and supported by the late writer, Seamus Heaney from Castledawson will poignantly celebrate the life and times of the great poet just one year after his death. 

The four day festival, Celebrating Seamus Heaney On Home Ground, will take place from September 11 – 14 at various venues including the stunning, Laurel Villa in Magherafelt, which earlier this year was awarded a five-star rating by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB).

The event will include poetry readings, children’s workshops, a selection of films by the BBC (originally presented by Seamus Heaney) and coach tours of the Heaney country, explained Ruth Burns, NITBs Marketing and PR Manager.

“Seamus Heaney is a world renowned literary figure whose writings spoke of a deep love for Northern Ireland.  During his career he won numerous awards for his works including the Noble Prize for Literature, the Whitbread Award and more recently the T. S. Elliot Award.

Celebrating Seamus Heaney On Home Ground will bring a unique and inspiring collection of writers, poets, artists and friends of the author together to celebrate his writing in his homeland of Magherafelt,” said Ruth.

Ruth continued:  “The Festival, which has been guest curated by BBC Arts Broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir includes over 40 events featuring the very best of our literary and artistic talents, bringing a host of well known names to the area Heaney called home.

“We would encourage people to enjoy the excellent Laurel Villa Tours of Heaney Country which have been rated a five-star experience under a NITB quality grading scheme showing the tours are of ‘exceptional’ standard – they have even been described by The Guardian newspaper as “One of the top ten outdoor activities in Ireland”.

Laurel Villa Guest House (Dining Area

 

Some of the event highlights include;

 

On Thursday September 11 at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt (daily from 10am) the festival opens with a horticulturally inspired trail by Jean Bleakney entitled, Poetry Trail – From Boortree To Anemone.  Take a stroll in the garden of Laurel Villa and you will find a trail of poems placed alongside plants to which they are linked by name or association.

 

Also on Thursday September 11 at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt, The Verbal Arts Centre,, together with a team of creative writers, will host  creative writing workshops aimed at various ages.  The workshops will encourage participants to gain a greater understanding of how to structure and develop their own poetry.

 

On Friday September 12 at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt at 10.30am, Eoin Colfer the laureate Na nÓG and best-selling author of books for children and teens, including the Artemis Fowl series, Half Moon Investigations and the Wish List, launches Once Upon A PlaceOnce Upon A Place will be a memorable storytelling event that will spark children’s imaginations and bring the magic of story and of books to young people in an experiential way. Later that day Eoin will be in conversation with celebrated children’s author and artist Oliver Jeffers

 

My Heaney on Saturday September 13 at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt at 1pm will include a  series of well known journalists, writers and musicians (including Seamus McKee, travel writer Christopher Somerville and  Belfast Telegraph political Editor Liam Clarke) all of whom  willpersonally select their favourite Heaney poems and reveal how Heaney’s work helped to shape them.

 

Earth to Alice – Stand-up Poetry by Alice McCullough will take place at Laurel Villa on Saturday September 13 at 12 noon, admission £5.  Join Alice and experience this captivating new voice that has been delighting audiences as she plays with the boundaries between spoken word, stand-up, storytelling and theatre in her one-woman show ‘Earth To Alice’.

 

On Sunday September 14 at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt at 2pm, admission £10, popular chef, teacher and broadcaster Paula McIntyre brings her culinary skills to Seamus Heaney’s poetry in a bespoke cookery demonstration.  Heaney and the Eaten Word – A cookery demonstration with Paula McIntyre will feature everything from sloe gin, blackberries & buttermilk to perch, salmon & oysters.

 

A full programme of events is available from www.onhomegroundfestival.com and bookings can be made in person at The Bridewell Tourist Information Centre

 

At a glance

Day 1 – Thursday 11 September

  • School workshops in Illustration and Creative Writing in Bellaghy
  • Reading Rooms in Bellaghy
  • Evening events in Laurel Villa

 

Day 2 – Friday 12 September

  • School workshops in Illustration and Creative Writing in The Bridewell and Magherafelt Library
  • Stanzas and Scones with guest poets
  • Exhibition by Colin Davidson
  • Laureate Na Nóg visit Eoin Colfer
  • Discussions and poetry readings
  • Reading Rooms
  • Evening events in Laurel Villa

 

Day 3 – Saturday 13 September

  • Illustration workshops open to the public
  • Creative Writing workshops open to the public
  • Stanzas and Scones with guest poets
  • Discussions and poetry readings
  • Exhibition launch
  • Music performance by Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol
  • Evening events in Laurel Villa

 

Day 4 – Sunday 14 September

  • Illustration workshops open to the public
  • Creative Writing workshops open to the public
  • Stanzas and Scones with guest poets
  • Discussions and poetry readings
  • Exhibitions
  • Music performances
  • Closing event Liam O’Flynn and guests

Laurel Villa Guest House (Seamus Heaney Exhibition)

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