A delegation from Mid Ulster Council joined Seamus Heaney’s family and Irish President Michael D Higgins at a reception detailing the plans for HomePlace at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.
Plans for the new literary and arts centre, built in Bellaghy to honour its most famous son, were revealed to Seamus Heaney’s alma mater and the institution that humoured the Nobel Laureate with a Cunningham Medal in 1995.
Supported by the Heaney family, the 2,000sqm HomePlace will celebrate the significant contribution Seamus Heaney made as a poet, playwright, translator and lecturer when it opens in September.
Seamus, who spent his formative years in the village, was also laid to rest there after his death in 2013.
Speaking at the Dublin event, Mid Ulster Council chair Cathal Mallaghan told guests: “We have reached a milestone in the development of HomePlace. From next week, we will begin to fill this space with the words, images, objects, memories, stories and, of course, the poetry, for which Seamus Heaney is renowned the world over. It will be a place for everyone to connect with Seamus Heaney.
“Since his untimely passing in 2013, Bellaghy has become a much-visited village. Every day, people come – from all walks of life – to pay their respects and reflect on the life and work of Seamus Heaney.
“We want HomePlace to be a fitting tribute to the man who has touched – and still continues to touch – so many lives.
“And while Bellaghy was a key in informing the work of Seamus Heaney, his strong Dublin-connections also resonated strongly,2 he added.
“We selected to announce details of HomePlace in the Royal Irish Academy because it also forms part of the legacy of Seamus Heaney.
“He was honoured by this institution in 1995 when he was awarded the Cunningham Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to scholarship. In developing HomePlace, we are keen to reach out, support and grow the connections which Seamus Heaney has left us behind.”
Also speaking at the event Seamus Heaney’s son Michael said: “We are so grateful that Dad is being honoured in such a generous fashion, and we know he would have been proud to have his life and work celebrated in such a positive way.”