A local man recently appointed to the team working at Seamus Heaney HomePlace has connections to Seamus Heaney which go beyond the building which will celebrate the poet’s life and literature.
Kieran Henry, part of the team working at new arts and literary centre in Bellaghy, spent his younger days as an apprentice bricklayer for Mick Joyce, Seamus Heaney’s uncle who is fondly remembered in the poem entitled ‘To Mick Joyce in Heaven’, part of the District and Circle poetry collection, published in 2006.
Mick Joyce, who was married to Patrick Heaney’s sister, Susan, features in the exhibition at HomePlace, and when World War 2 broke out was working in England and enlisted as a medical orderly.
After the war, he returned to Bellaghy to work as a bricklayer which was when Kieran met him:
“I left school at 16 and started working as a builder in 1978/79. On my first day, the van I was travelling to work in stopped in Bellaghy village to pick up Mick Joyce. I remember him as a very tall, striking man with grey hair.”
“Mick asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I wanted to be a bricklayer. Mick said ‘you’ve come to the right place then!”
“We travelled to a school outside Cloughmills and Mick lent me a trowel and we went to work building a wall.”
He said, “I worked with Mick Joyce for another 6 months and he taught me a lot in those early days and they will always be fond memories.”
More than half of the 17 staff working at Seamus Heaney HomePlace come from within a 4 mile radius of the Bellaghy-based literary centre. For more information contact Seamus Heaney HomePlace on 028 7938 7444 or visit www.seamusheaneyhome.com.