Kay McErlaine Reflects On First Year At HomePlace

September 26, 2017

Kay McErlaine, part of the Front of House team at Seamus Heaney HomePlace, recalls how a visit to the exhibition inspired a grieving mother and poet to pick up her pen again and write.
With great excitement and a little apprehension I attended an interview with Mid Ulster District Council for a position in the Front of House team in the marvellous new building which was under construction at the time in Bellaghy.
I had observed with great interest and admiration as Seamus Heaney HomePlace rose up out of the derelict site of the former RUC station. On numerous occasions travelling through Bellaghy village, I had expressed quite frequently my desire to work in such a magnificent environment.

I have lived on a farm for 30 years, had worked full time and had just recently retired to life on the farm but I soon became eager to escape my daily duties as a farmer’s wife and the trappings of my work triangle of the cooker, the table and the sink.
So, I was delighted to be offered the position and eagerly accepted the job.
Working at Front of House has given me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, our local visitors, international visitors, celebrities, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, politicians and royalty.
One couple who left a lasting impression, made their first visit on the occasion of an anniversary. The lady’s husband explained that his wife was a published poet who had not written a line of poetry for several years, since the death of their son. I expressed my hope that she may be inspired by her visit to HomePlace and I was delighted when she returned to the reception desk to inform me that she had written a poem which she then recited.
The lady explained that she had found inspiration as she moved through the exhibition and wrote the poem as she sat in our viewing gallery.
As our first anniversary approaches I cannot believe that one year has passed since the first anxious weeks when we embraced our roles in HomePlace. I cannot adequately express the enjoyment or job satisfaction that I have experienced since joining the team here. I have formed new relationships with my work colleagues and through meeting and greeting our visitors, new friendships have been formed and old friendships renewed. It is the responses of our visitors to their experiences at HomePlace which inspire us to continue to work with passion for this extraordinary place.