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Lottery funding to help showcase Seamus Heaney's poetry

Published 19/01/2016

A Seamus Heaney Arts Centre is being constructed in his home village of Bellaghy
A Seamus Heaney Arts Centre is being constructed in his home village of Bellaghy

The National Lottery is to provide £688,700 to showcase the Mid Ulster celebrated in Seamus Heaney's poetry.

A literary trail in his native south Derry is expected to include the eel factory at Toome and Lagan's Road Anahorish. Lagan's Road inspired many of his poems from his days walking from Mossbawn to Anahorish Primary School.

Many of his best known poems are set in his homeland. Yet many of these places are inaccessible to the public and traditional ways of life are slowly fading from memory, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) said.

Paul Mullan, head of HLF for Northern Ireland, said: "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."

Heaney died in August 2013 aged 74. He was the country's best known contemporary writer. He also created a bestseller from a translation of Beowulf and sold more books in Britain than any other living poet during his lifetime.

His poems accounted for two thirds of book sales of all living poets. In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

A Seamus Heaney Arts Centre is being constructed in his home village of Bellaghy.

The HLF is granting the money to the Living Past Project, which that aims to connect Heaney's great poems to people and communities in the area; to preserve the traditional rural life that inspired Heaney and to make some of the sites that feature in his poems accessible.

The literary trail will feature nine local sites referenced by Heaney.

There will be children's activities including a post primary programme connecting his poetry to the landscape.

The project will 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.

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