St. Mary's Clady wins 'My Place in the Landscape' Award

March 22, 2018

St Mary’s College Clady has received the overall ‘My Place in the Landscape’ Award for their outstanding participation in a unique collaborative project – My Place Within the Landscape – between Lough Neagh Partnership, RSPB NI and Seamus Heaney HomePlace.

The creative achievements of more than 40 students from Magherafelt High School, Sperrin Integrated College, Magherafelt; St Mary's College, Clady; St Patrick's, Maghera and St Pius X College, Magherafelt; were recognised with highly commended certificates, with the writers of the top five poems also receiving a wooden pen. In Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ which was included in the ‘My Place within the Landscape’ project, he talks of his relationship with the power of the pen. 

“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.”

Award presentations were made by Queen’s University Belfast Children’s Writing Fellow, Myra Zepff. Myra said: “I am delighted to have been involved in this wonderful project which brought young people, poetry, and the landscape together in such a fresh and vivid way. Their experiences, both of the environment around them and of the creative process will undoubtedly stay with them for a long time”

The project funded by Heritage Lottery, encouraged within the students a love of both landscape and literature, through increasing awareness of their own natural and cultural heritage encompassing various themes including spiritual awareness; creative expression; natural heritage; social studies and use of technology. It provided an opportunity for students to develop the skills and empathy required to respond personally to poetry, as well as giving a better understanding of the rich variety of habitats around Lough Neagh; their biodiversity importance; why they have been designated and how these habitats are threatened.
Conor Jordan, Chair of Lough Neagh Partnership Forum, said: “The poetry produced by the winning students is exceptional and I’ve been told it was difficult to choose the best such was the level of creativity. I would like to congratulate all those who participated in this most enjoyable and truly unique project.  It is an excellent example of how partnership working can help promote a greater understanding of our landscape heritage and the literary value it holds for the observer. 
“The cultural significance of Lough Neagh and Lough Beg has been recognised globally thanks to the poetic eloquence of Seamus Heaney and we are delighted to be part of a project that has encouraged young people to look at the landscape with a new heritage awareness.”

Speaking at the celebration, Deputy Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Mark Glasgow said, “We are delighted to have participated in this collaborative project that ensures the legacy of Seamus Heaney and his work lives on, and which gives inspiration to new and future generations of young people to pursue their creative dreams. The Seamus Heaney HomePlace education programme and its participation in collaborative shared education programmes like My Place in the Landscape not only provide this inspiration, but also take the poetry of Seamus Heaney as a catalyst for teaching and learning in a wider sense.”

Jess McVicar from RSPB NI added:  “Through this unique project looking at how landscape inspires literature, RSPB NI has connected young people with nature in the important protected landscapes in their area. The project gives students the opportunity to experience first-hand the very landscapes that inspired poems such as ‘Digging’ and ‘The Strand at Lough Beg’. RSPB NI has been delighted to work on My Place Within the Landscape, helping students to learn about the importance of conservation and to recognise the richness of their own natural heritage.”
This is a project of Lough Neagh Partnership under the Landscape partnership programme funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.