The opportunity to adopt an all-island approach to the new Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy has been explored in a meeting between Mid Ulster District Council and the Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Presiding Councillor (Chair) of Mid Ulster Council, Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, met Minister Heather Humphreys TD to present details of the new £4M cultural and visitor centre, which will showcase the life and work of Seamus Heaney, and to discuss the potential for joint-working in literary arts.
Describing the meeting as ‘very positive’, Councillor Mallaghan said:
“Seamus Heaney was a man of international standing, with an almost unprecedented global reputation, and he undoubtedly counts among the great Irish literary giants.
“The new centre is rooted in the place where he lived and which inspired him, but its significance goes beyond Bellaghy and the Mid Ulster region. We believe it will be a key arts and visitor attraction, a focal point for arts and cultural activity on an all-Ireland basis, and, crucially, a driver for literary tourism the length of the country.
“The possibilities for forming strategic partnerships and creating mutually beneficial connections, including the establishment of an all-Ireland literary trail which will extend visitor travel from the South to the North, were all positively received by the Minister. I look forward to developing the relationship with Minister Humphreys’ department”.
The Seamus Heaney Centre is currently under construction in Bellaghy. Some 2,000 of the poet’s personal books, reference materials and manuscripts will be housed in the centre’s library, while a large exhibition space will link the people, places, landscapes and traditions which influenced and inspired Heaney and also include a selection of his personal belongings, from his signature duffel coat to his fountain pen. A 160-seater theatre and performance space will also form part of the build, with specific learning, activity and creative zones designed to meet the needs of children and young people, as well as large tour groups.
The centre will open in June 2016.
Photo caption: Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, with Councillor Cáthal Mallaghan, Presiding Councillor (Chair) of Mid Ulster District Council, who met to discuss an all-island approach to the new Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy.