Twenty years after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the late Seamus Heaney is at the centre of a new programme to inspire a new generation of writers.
More than 600 children, including those from the Anahorish Primary School where Seamus Heaney was a pupil, are currently taking part in an education programme linked to the creation of a new £4M facility in Bellaghy to showcase the life and work of the poet.
Using his poetry as inspiration, including work like ‘Digging’, ‘The Summer of Lost Rachel’ and ‘A Sofa in the Forties’, the children at Anahorish have been learning about rhythm, rhyme and the use of language, discussing and then experimenting with their own ideas to develop their own poems.
They are participating in the Creative Writing element of the education programme which has been developed by Mid Ulster District Council, is part-funded by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and being delivered by the Verbal Arts Centre.
Chair of the Council, Councillor Linda Dillon, said:
“Seamus Heaney counts among our literary legends and left such an important legacy for us all, but where better to begin to ensure that his work continues to enthuse a new generation, than with those schools which are at the heart of the place where he was from, and which was the inspiration for so much of his work.
“He began his Nobel lecture on 7 December 1995 speaking about home, family, the landscape and his relationship with the outside world as a small boy and there is a lovely symmetry, two decades on, to know that children today are exploring that same relationship through his work.”
Principal of Anahorish Primary School, Mr D Quinn, said:
"We are delighted to participate in this literary programme. The pupils are thoroughly enjoying gaining inspiration from the works of our celebrated past pupil Seamus Heaney. We look forward to the opening of the centre dedicated to his work and hope to engage fully in all educational aspects to promote and foster a love for literature".
The new building in Bellaghy will open in summer 2016 and will bring together an interactive exhibition, using the latest touchscreen, video and audio technology, with a 160-seater theatre and performance space, learning zones for children and adults, as well as community space.