If there was an award for Cultural Event of the Year then this Seamus Heaney-inspired evening of ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ would be the winner. The location for the evening was the historic Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, with just the right mix of readings and music. The event was compered by John Kelly of Lyric FM.
In an ‘Embrace a Giant Spirit’ event organised by Tourism NI, actors Stephen Rea, Tara Lynne O’Neill and Laurence Kinlan, musician Neil Martin and the singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, gave a unique and moving performance to celebrate Seamus Heaney’s work at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, with just the right mix of readings and music. The event was compered by John Kelly of Lyric FM.
The programme was curated by Seamus Heaney HomePlace, the literary centre in Bellaghy, Co Derry, which takes visitors on a journey through the life and literature of the poet, with an invited audience including members of the Heaney family, representatives from the local tourism industry, as well as arts, culture and media.
The performers came together as part of an initiative that aims to highlight the literary connections between Seamus Heaney HomePlace, which recently reached its 130,000 visitor milestone, and the hugely successful ‘Listen Now Again’ exhibition, which draws on the National Library’s extensive Heaney archive and has welcomed over 162,000 visitors since it opened in Dublin in July 2018,
Five locations of significance to Seamus Heaney are being developed, notable among them being Lough Beg, a place of ‘special memories’ for the poet where a boardwalk will lead visitors to a newly constructed viewing point to see Church Island and its famous spire, with extracts of poetry audible, as well as visible along the route.
A riverside walk by the Moyola River is also being created and a newly commissioned sculpture will form the focal point for visitors to hear and read poetry at the eel fishery in Toome. Visitors will also be able to download an app, which will allow access to augmented reality as they journey through each location.
Fiona Cunningham, Republic of Ireland Market Manager, Tourism NI said: “With the impressive Seamus Heaney HomePlace, situated in Bellaghy, only two and a half hours from Dublin, visitors can really immerse themselves in our greatest poet’s writing and discover many areas of his beloved hometown that inspired so much of his work.
“Over 162,000 thousand have visited the Dublin exhibition since it opened in 2018, and many may be unaware of the very unique and spiritually moving experience one can also get when visiting Heaney HomePlace. Visitors are coming from all over the world to soak up the beautiful place, people and landscapes in Northern Ireland that inspired him so much and we want to encourage people from across Ireland to make the unforgettable trip to follow his journey, walk the paths he took and explore through his words at Seamus Heaney HomePlace. We are really inviting you to embrace our giant spirit in NI and to awaken your own.”