The Tourism NI ‘Giant Spirit Awards’ took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Slieve Donard Resort on the evening of Thursday 6 October 2022. The recently revamped awards celebrate excellence, innovation and best practice in the industry over the past two years. Seamus Heaney HomePlace was absolutely delighted to receive the coveted award of Most Innovative Large Tourism Business in Northern Ireland at this event.
Seamus Heaney HomePlace was significantly impacted during the Covid-19 crisis with closures resulting in visitors unable to visit the exhibition, engage in the Arts and Education programmes, or participate in the many workshops and creative learning opportunities normally on offer. Reacting positively to the challenges presented by the pandemic, HomePlace pivoted towards successfully offering the Arts Programme online via a number of social media channels, which attracted audiences from some 13 countries across the globe.
Further evidence of the innovation on display was the extension of the HomePlace experience to include ‘Open Ground’; a series of five locations important to the life and literature of Seamus Heaney (Toomebridge, Magherafelt, Moyola River, Lough Beg and Bellaghy Bawn). Literary references and stories of each of the five sites are explained through beautiful interpretation, including information panels and stunning sculptures. Availing of new technologies, a dedicated Open Ground App adds an additional dimension to the overall experience. One visitor on the recently established Open Ground Guided tours commented:
‘Thoroughly brilliant…made rich, special and memorable by the tour guide’
Councillor Córa Corry, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council which owns and operates Seamus Heaney HomePlace, said:
‘Open Ground is a special and inspirational addition to the Mid Ulster area, and indeed the first of its kind globally. I am immensely proud of all those from Mid Ulster who were shortlisted for a Giant Spirit Award, and this reflects extremely well on the on-going tourism efforts in the locality. I am especially pleased that HomePlace has been recognised for its innovation through winning this award, and I would of course encourage everyone to take-in first-hand this award-winning experience’
Brian McCormick, Manager of Seamus Heaney HomePlace, who collected the award on behalf of the team noted:
‘We were thrilled to take home the award of Most Innovative Large Tourism Business in Northern Ireland at the recent Giant Spirit Awards. This award is recognition for the hard work and efforts of all the team. Moving HomePlace outdoors and bringing Seamus Heaney’s work into the actual landscape which provided so much inspiration, is a truly unique way to present his poems. Nowhere else in the world reflects a writer’s work in this way, and we take great pride in being recognised at such a prestigious awards ceremony’’
If you would like to visit the award-winning exhibition at Seamus Heaney HomePlace and experience what’s on offer first-hand, please visit our website.