Belfast Telegraph

Charles and Camilla tour Seamus Heaney centre as they begin Northern Ireland visit

By Donna Deeney

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall began their two day visit to Northern Ireland with a visit to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace in Bellaghy in County Londonderry.

A small gathering of local people lined the railings outside the centre and greeted the Royal Couple as they emerged from their car.

Seamus Heaney's widow Marie and children Michael, Chris and Catherine showed the Prince and Duchess around the centre which opened last year.

It is well known that the Prince is an admirer of Heaney's work - he recorded one of the late Nobel Laurette's poems and sent it to Homeplace ahead of the opening.

After enjoying a performance by local theatre company and musicians which the Prince and Duchess clearly enjoyed, the prince said: "I had the privilege of meeting Seamus Heaney when, despite his busy scheduled, he very generously accepted my invitation to teach on the literature summer school run by my teaching institute.

"It was my conviction then as it remains that art and literature are utterly essential to understanding what it is to be human."

The Royal couple will host a dinner tonight at Hillsborough Castle where a composition in Irish, English and Ulster Scots by Neil Martin commissioned by Prince Charles will be performed for the first time.

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