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Literary trail to celebrate people and places immortalised by Seamus Heaney's pen

By Lisa Smyth

Published 19/01/2016

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Eel traps at Toome will be included in a literary trail celebrating poet Seamus Heaney
Lagan’s Road in Anahorish will be included in a literary trail celebrating poet Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney immortalised many of the places, sights and sounds of his native mid Ulster in his writing.

And now the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £688,700 to the Living Past Project, which aims to connect his great poems to the people and communities of south Derry.

Among the plans to achieve this is the establishment of a literary trail.

Castledawson-born Heaney, who died in August 2013, made reference to many local sites - some of which are not currently accessible to the public.

The trail will feature nine of these, including Lagan's Road in Anahorish and the eel fishery at Toome. There will be children's activities, including a post primary programme connecting his poetry to the landscape.

The project will also include elements on rural life: collecting stories and making videos of activities inspired by poems such as Churning Day, Blackberry Picking and The Forge.

Links are also being established with universities and colleges in Ireland, north and south, as well as the two universities where Heaney taught - Oxford and Harvard.

It is hoped the project will establish south Derry on the literary map, encourage tourism and boost the local economy. Councillor Linda Dillon, chair of Mid Ulster District Council, said: "Our new facility in Bellaghy which opens this year will tell the story of Seamus Heaney's life and work and, together with the literary trails, education programme and community engagement activities, will inspire visitors, just as this place and its people inspired Seamus Heaney himself.

"We are delighted to receive such a substantial award from the HLF and look forward to welcoming visitors and locals alike to enjoy the experience." Paul Mullan, head of HLF for Northern Ireland, said: "This is a wonderful project that we are proud to fund, so I'd like to say a big thank you to National Lottery players.

"Heaney is our greatest poet, a literary giant. His inspiration came from the people, the landscape and the rural traditions of south Derry.

"What better way to celebrate his legacy than to re-connect local people to his work and make many of the sites that millions all over the world have been mesmerised by through his poems accessible for all to see."

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