The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Culture Minister Carál Nί Chuilίn today announced funding of £980,000 towards the construction of the Seamus Heaney Arts and Literary Centre in Bellaghy, Co. Derry.
Speaking at the announcement the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “The new Seamus Heaney Arts and Literary Centre in Bellaghy is a fitting way to celebrate the contribution of a literary giant. Through this centre the work, writings and life of Seamus Heaney will continue to enrich all our lives and move us deeply.
“People will travel from near and far for this unique insight into the world of Seamus Heaney. Within the centre his first writing desk, books and manuscripts will be on display. To be able to see these items first hand offers a personal and powerful connection to Seamus Heaney which has only been made possible by the support and generosity of the Heaney family. Heaney’s work resonated with people across the globe and this centre will be a major tourism draw and an important cultural asset to the north of Ireland.
“The writings of Seamus Heaney transcended all generations and boundaries and will be a fantastic resource for everyone in the community to use and enjoy. The people of Mid Ulster should be truly proud as through this centre they continue to honour the inimitable Seamus Heaney.”
Following the tour of the site Culture Minister Carál Nί Chuilίn said: “Mid Ulster District Council, and previously Magherafelt District Council, have shown tremendous vision and enterprise in aiming to create a timely, lasting and educational tribute to this famous son of Derry. It is appropriate that it is to be located in his beloved Bellaghy and I know it will be a lasting symbol in an area what has previously suffered from under investment.
“I am today pleased to commit almost £1 million of funding for this magnificent project which honours a man who is undoubtedly amongst the greatest literary exponents ever to have come from these shores and who, like his fellow Nobel laureates Shaw, Yeats and Beckett, has done so much to ensure that the richness of Irish literature has received true recognition on the world stage.
“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in the Council’s plans to celebrate the life and works of Heaney. Despite his international acclaim, Seamus Heaney never forgot his roots and his humility was something to behold. As his headstone reads, ‘Walk On Air Against Your Better Judgement.’
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Linda Dillon, welcomed the funding announcement.
“This project has huge local, national and international significance and will be a focal point for arts, cultural and educational activity, right at the heart of the place which so defined and inspired Seamus Heaney. The substantial funding announcement is testament to the facility’s value culturally and economically and is a very welcome investment”.
Councillor Kim Ashton, Vice Chair of the Council, also welcomed the commitment of funding from the DCAL Minister:
“To receive financial support from central government is a boost to the Seamus Heaney project, and to the Mid Ulster region. We are committed to raising the profile of this area as one with a rich and unique cultural heritage. I have always believed that DCAL had an important part to play in supporting this project and the funding commitment now means that ratepayers are not the sole funders”.