Around 80 people gathered in Mid Ulster District Council’s flagship literary centre, Seamus Heaney HomePlace, last week to learn more about planned investment in South Derry.
The audience, drawn from local businesses, community and voluntary groups heard about further developments planned for the Bellaghy-based HomePlace, including new proposals for a trails experience to open up areas of the landscape which feature in and inspired Seamus Heaney’s work.
Work already completed on new fishing stands along the River Bann at Portglenone and Newferry was outlined by Stephen Douglas from Waterways Ireland, who also talked in more detail about the development of a Lower Bann Blueway. Linking with this development, Jack Tisdall from the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland spoke about the progress towards staging the 2019 25th FIPSed European Coarse Angling Championships at the river.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake, acknowledging the efforts of Brian McCormick, HomePlace Manager and his staff, welcomed guests to HomePlace, talking about its cultural significance, as well as its role as a catalyst for regeneration:
“HomePlace represents one of the most significant investments by Mid Ulster District Council since it came into being in April 2015. Indeed, in a period of time when this kind of development in culture and arts has been reducing, the £4.2M funding for HomePlace has been in stark contrast to recent trends.
“This investment transformed a once derelict site, but also acted as a catalyst to stimulate regeneration in the village itself and to support tourism growth in the wider south Derry area.
“The Lower Bann Blueway is another substantial project. It opens up even more opportunities for this area and our rural communities to optimise the potential of its natural assets, whether that’s in health, tourism or wider economic terms – and to do so sympathetically and sustainably”.
The evening also included a presentation from Seamus McErlean, Chair of Bellaghy Historical Society, with music provided by the Bellaghy Comhaltas Group.
Pictured at the recent information evening on exciting new developments in the South Derry area spearheaded by Mid Ulster District Council are (L-R), Jack Tisdall, National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland; Stephen Douglas, Waterways Ireland; Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake; Adrian McCreesh, Director of Business and Communities, Mid Ulster District Council and Brian McCormick, Manager at Seamus Heaney HomePlace.