An innovative project that celebrates local heritage through poetry has won an award from the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society for “Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People”.
Receiving the accolade by the decision of a panel of six judges, Heartland is a project involving 8 Mid Ulster primary schools in which pupils were given the opportunity to visit heritage sites, such as Bellaghy Bawn, Knockmany Passage Tomb, Lissan House, and Tirkane Sweathouse which are geographically close to their schools, discover the history associated with these special places and then write about their experiences.
It was devised by the Education Officers at Hill of The O’Neill & Ranfurly House and Seamus Heaney HomePlace almost two years ago after they had examined the, then newly published Tourism Strategy for Mid Ulster which highlighted the fact that the Mid Ulster District Council area is extremely rich in heritage.
Following visits to the sites, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland (2017-19), Myra Zepf, supporting the project as part of her two year residency at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, led writing workshops in each of the participating schools. The poetry that emerged from the eight classes can now be found in the recently published book, “Heartland”, available at Visitor Information Centres throughout Mid Ulster.
Deputy Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Clement Cuthbertson congratulating the winning project team and pupils involved in compiling the publication said, “Arguably, Mid Ulster contains the richest seam of archaeological, historic and heritage sites and facilities within the North of Ireland, stretching from the Mesolithic era and up to the Second World War. A lot of these sites are well known, such as Tullaghoge Fort and Beaghmore Stone Circle, but many are not.
“It has been wonderful to see future generations connecting with the past with the help of the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, Myra Zepf, to produce poems that are written with enthusiasm and vigour, and connect with our district’s history and nature across time and space.”
The schools taking part in the project were: Augher Central Primary School; Bellaghy Primary School; Carntall Primary School, Clogher; Churchtown Primary School, Cookstown; Lissan Primary School, Cookstown; St Brigid’s Primary School / Bunscoil Naomh Bríd, Tirkane; St John Bosco Primary School, Ballynease; St Macartan’s Primary School, Clogher.
Copies of the ‘Heartland’ book can be picked up for free at Visitor Information Centres in Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt.