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

Charles and Camilla Northern Ireland visit: May 2017 [Photos] Close

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton  greets the Prince of Wales as he attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton greets the Prince of Wales as he attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton  greets the Duchess of Cornwall as she attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton greets the Duchess of Cornwall as she attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton  greets the Prince of Wales as he attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton greets the Prince of Wales as he attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall unveiling the Police Service of Northern Ireland Memorial Book during a visit to the PSNI HQ  in Belfast as part of their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall unveiling the Police Service of Northern Ireland Memorial Book during a visit to the PSNI HQ in Belfast as part of their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton  greets the Prince of Wales as he arrives to view the PSNI HQ in Belfast, as part of his visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton greets the Prince of Wales as he arrives to view the PSNI HQ in Belfast, as part of his visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

PA

Crowds wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at  Dromore Village in County Down, during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Crowds wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Dromore Village in County Down, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Crowds wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at  Dromore Village in County Down, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Crowds wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Dromore Village in County Down, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales signs the visitors book while the Duchess of Cornwall looks on during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales signs the visitors book while the Duchess of Cornwall looks on during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales with Seamus Heaney's wife Marie during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales with Seamus Heaney's wife Marie during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arriving for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arriving for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of Hugh Heaney, brother of Seamus Heaney, during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of Hugh Heaney, brother of Seamus Heaney, during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet Seamus Heaney's wife Marie ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet Seamus Heaney's wife Marie ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Councillor Trevor Wilson (left) speaks with the Prince of Wales during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. : Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Councillor Trevor Wilson (left) speaks with the Prince of Wales during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. : Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales meets well wishers ahead of a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales strokes a dog outside the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales strokes a dog outside the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arriving for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arriving for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall speaking with Seamus Heaney's wife Marie during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall speaking with Seamus Heaney's wife Marie during a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to the poet during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Members of the Heaney family wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.  Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Members of the Heaney family wait for the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a tour of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to poet Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

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Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton greets the Prince of Wales as he attends the PSNI HQ memorial garden opening in Belfast, during their visit to Northern Ireland. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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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