A line-up of acclaimed writers and musicians has been announced as part of the new programme of performances at Seamus Heaney HomePlace, which for the first time in almost two years is back to hosting a full capacity audience.
Local Bellaghy resident, Pat Brennan opens the programme as, for the first time anywhere, his extensive collection of publications is brought together for display on 28 April – Sunday 1 May, closing with a special lecture from Pat entitled ‘Nostalgia in the Afternoon’. The extensive collection charts Seamus Heaney’s writing through his contributions in various magazines and periodicals, from his early days in 1959 at Queen’s University in ‘Gorgon’, the English Society’s publication, to his inclusion in popular culture publications such as ‘Vogue’ and ‘O, The Oprah Magazine’.
Among the cream of local and internationally renowned musical talent to feature are Jack Lukeman, Martin Hayes, The Lost Brothers, Anthony Toner, Maebh Martin, The Hothouse Flowers and Peggy Seeger.
The ‘Summer Sundays in The Back Yard’ series of afternoons of music return from Sunday 24 July, where audiences can spend afternoons listening to talented musicians such as Brigid O’Neill, Jack Warnock and Dónal O’Connor in such a beautiful setting.
Audiences will have another chance to catch Eric Ngalle Charles, following his devastatingly emotional reading at HomePlace in 2019, as he reads from ‘Homelands’, his debut collection, in which he draws on his early life raised by the matriarchs of Cameroon, being sent to Moscow by human traffickers and finding a new home in Wales.
The programme recognise the younger generation of poets coming through to HomePlace, bringing their unique voices along with them. Raymond Antrobus and Rachel Long boast a range of awards and accreditations, not to mention Raymond’s Rathbones Folio Prize from 2019 where he was the first ever poet to win for his “exceptionally brave and kind” exploration of the deaf experience.
The publication of ‘100 Poems’ is celebrated by Sinead Morrissey, Daljit Nagra and Zaffar Kunial, who alongside Michael Heaney, take a closer look at the most recent selection of Seamus Heaney’s poetry, now published in paperback by Faber & Faber, and chosen and introduced by the Heaney family.
A highlight of the programme will be the welcome return of the first female Poet Laureate in the role’s 400 year history, Carol Ann Duffy. Carol Ann will read from her work, alongside poets Theo Dorgan and Paula Meehan, and will be accompanied by music from Colm Mac Con lomaire.
Poetry is not the only literary art form to feature in the new programme as the short story is celebrated when Bernie McGill and Rosemary Jenkins appear in conversation with Emma Warnock. Both authors have released short story collections this year and have had their work anthologised in many collections.
Councillor Paul McLean, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council which owns and operates Seamus Heaney HomePlace, said:
“When I browsed through this season’s HomePlace Arts Programme I was once again astounded by the quality of events taking place this summer. It’s all the more special that as we move out of the pandemic, we’re able to open The Helicon at full capacity once more, with full safety measures in place, allowing more people to experience this intimate and very special place as it echoes again to rhythm and rhyme from some of the most accomplished musicians and writers of our day.”
The new programme is on sale now.