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Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody, will read Seamus Heaney poems and peform songs at a poetry festival festival in Magherafelt in September.
The Festival, which was named “On Home Ground” by the poet before his untimely death, will take place in Laurel Villa, Magherafelt, and surrounding locations which inspired much of Heaney’s work and will this year be called Celebrating Seamus Heaney, On Home Ground, in his honour.
The event, running over four days in September in the heart of the late Seamus Heaney’s homeland, will this year celebrate the life, work and legacy of Ireland’s most well-known and respected poet through poetry, music and art and will bring a host of huge names from all of these worlds to Magherafelt, the district he called home.
Organised by Laurel Villa’s husband and wife team, Eugene and Gerardine Kielt, in partnership with the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry and curated by BBC Arts Broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir, On Home Ground Festival will feature an array of literary and artistic gems on September 11-14th.
Highlights of the programme include an exhibition of films made for the BBC and presented by
Seamus Heaney, many of which have never been broadcast more than once.
There will be readings from some of Ireland’s finest writers and poets, children’s workshops, a poetry picnic, coach tours of ‘Heaney country’ and In Conversations with special guests – including Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody who will read Heaney poetry and perform songs, one of which he has dedicated to the late poet, to globally renowned uileann piper Liam O’Flynn who, along with musicians Neil Martin, Rod McVey and actress Brid Brennan, will perform a bespoke session on Heaney.
Artist Colin Davidson, whose portrait of Heaney was the last painting Heaney sat for, will be In Conversation with writer Glenn Patterson.Marie-Louise Muir said she was honoured to be part of a fitting tribute to one of the greatest poets of our times.
“It has been a huge privilege to curate this festival. I got to know Seamus Heaney through my BBC work over a decade ago. I was, at first, a rookie reporter and fan clutching my questions. I became a trusted interviewer, and he became a touch stone for my career.
“Seamus believed in the Home Ground, his place, his people, of County Derry. Through this Festival, I am “digging” into that Home Ground. I am thrilled so many creative and talented people have all responded with joy to be involved.”
Organisers of the festival, Eugene and Gerardine Kielt from Laurel Villa say they are greatly looking forward to the stars of the arts world converging on Laurel Villa to pay tribute to their literary hero.
“We are delighted that the Verbal Arts Centre, an educational charity devoted to the promotion of the written and spoken word, is involved in this year’s festival,” said Eugene.
“And to have Marie-Louise as guest curator is absolutely fantastic because she is such a highly respected figure in the arts world. The forthcoming festival will celebrate Seamus Heaney’s legacy in an authentic and sensitive manner and in a place he was very fond of.”
Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Event Manager, Eddie Rowan said, “NITB is delighted to support this fantastic festival of literary culture. The high quality programme of events on offer is testament to the hard work and dedication of the event organisers. Set in the most picturesque surroundings, visitors can not only be inspired by Heaney’s works, but also enjoy some of Northern Ireland’s greatest landscapes. All of this will ensure that standards of excellence are provided at every step of the visitor’s journey and contribute to the creation and sustainability of a vibrant tourism industry.”