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Seamus Heaney HomePlace Announces Epic Autumn Events Programme

An epic line-up of internationally acclaimed writers, poets and musicians has been announced as Seamus Heaney HomePlace unveils its latest events programme, taking place this autumn in Bellaghy.

The opening performance of Strauss’s epic melodrama Enoch Arden on 4 September sets the tone, featuring pianist Julius Drake and award winning actor Rory Kinnear (Royal Shakespeare Company and familiar to many as Bill Tanner in three of the Daniel Craig James Bond films). A powerful, potent and timeless tale of honour, love and sacrifice within a love triangle, Enoch Arden is one of Strauss’s most evocative and emotional scores and this promises to be an unmissable evening of words and music. HomePlace is grateful for the loan of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s beautiful Steinway Grand Piano for the evening.

It’s not just classical music on the menu though, as jazz, blues, soul and gospel courtesy of the soulful voice of Dana Masters is on stage 10 September, and Irish Trad with a contemporary twist from Zoë Conway and John McIntyre makes an appearance later in October. The West Ocean String Quartet showcase their traditional music on 21 October. Their seemingly endless store of inexplicably beautiful airs and robust dance music from along the Atlantic edge of Ireland makes for a rewarding listen.

There’s also an exclusive announcement of the return of Lisa Hannigan to The Helicon in January 2023. Celebrated for her unmistakable vocals, by turns hushed and soaring, and her exquisite song writing, she has gathered countless accolades, including a Mercury Prize and Choice Music Prize nomination, number one albums in Ireland and a devoted following. Her third and arguably most bewitching record, At Swim, features an inspired a capella version of Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Anahorish’, which audiences were lucky to hear in The Helicon on Lisa’s last visit in its opening year of 2016.

Poet and comedian Owen O’Neill goes ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ on 16 September in an engaging show that is a mixture of comedy storytelling and poetry, segueing smoothly between the two.

The laughs continue with a breathtaking roller coaster of poetry, spoken word, off the wall chat, riffs and wicked stories from Poet Laureate of Punk, rock star, fashion icon and The Bard of Salford – Dr John Cooper Clarke.

The imagined lives of women are artfully explored by Nuala O’Connor and Martina Devlin in conversation with Bernie McGill on 16 October, as they discuss historical fiction, our responsibility to the past and the celebration of fascinating women.

Visitors can travel across the seas to further shores throughout the season exploring the writings and conversation with authors Donal Ryan (24 September), Armistead Maupin (30 September), and Kevin Barry (26 November).

Seamus Heaney HomePlace is collaborating with Cinemagic and Magherafelt Food Bank to host a very special screening of ‘Song of the Sea’ on 22 October. Instead of paying for a ticket, audience members are asked to donate an essential or food item needed by the Foodbank by bringing it with them on the day. Donations will help Magherafelt Food Bank work to combat poverty and hunger this autumn and winter.

To finish the year, you’re invited to gather round the Christmas HomePlace hearth on 17 December, as Anthony Toner, Neil Martin, Glen Patterson and John McCullough provide a treat for the senses as the turning of the year and the longest night beckons. There’s no better place to be to mark the beginning of the lengthening days and shortening nights once again.

Councillor Córa Corry, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council which owns and operates Seamus Heaney HomePlace, said:

“Once again, Seamus Heaney HomePlace’s autumn events line-up is full to the brim with the cream of local, regional and international musicians, writers, poets and artists, who come together to celebrate the written, spoken and sung word. At the same time, the thoughtfully developed programme is rooted in the language and literature of Seamus Heaney and the landscape which so inspired him. I’d encourage everyone to browse the full programme and take advantage of having such a world class choice of events right on our doorstep.”