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The late Seamus Heaney, poet and Nobel Laureate, was regarded as one of the major poets of the twentieth century. One of the most easily recognised faces in Ireland during his lifetime, he was lauded throughout the world by critics and the public alike. Laurel Villa is located in what has become known as ‘Heaney Country’ and we are just 3 miles from his birthplace at Mossbawn. Much of his poetry draws its inpiration from this first world, those very special townlands and parishes around his birthplace Mossbawn near Castledawson. He is buried in Bellaghy just a ten minute drive away. The Seamus Heaney HomePlace centre opened in Bellaghy village in 2016 and a visit to its exhibition or attendance at one of its events will compliment perfectly a stay at Laurel Villa or Eugene’s 5 Star Tour of Heaney Country .
We were honoured to have been involved in promoting his work down through the years and to have known him during that time. He was to have opened the On Home Ground Poetry Festival at Laurel Villa on 20 September 2013. Sadly, he died in Dublin just three weeks before the start of the festival. In place of that opening event we organised a tribute to him instead, with as number of poets reading his words. It was a very powerful and fitting tribute to him.
Portrait Study of Seamus Heaney ©Peter Edwards
A few years earlier, in June 2009, Seamus Heaney gave a memorable reading as a guest poet at Laurel Villa. This is what he said afterwards:
‘ That was a truely laureate experience. I thank you for the ambiance you have created in the house and the hospitality you provide for poets and poetry – and the people who are interested in poets and poetry. And I thank you for the special commitment you have made from the beginning to the work of this particular contributor. Keep going!’
Read The Observer travel section review of Laurel Villa and this event.
Owners Gerardine and Eugene Kielt with the late Seamus Heaney at Laurel Villa
‘The hosts Eugene and Gerardine, experts in all things Heaney, could not be more helpful to myself and other guests in making Seamus’s poetry and life so accessible.’ TripAdvisor Review October 2016
Laurel Villa: Ireland’s Only Poetry Guest House
According to Patrick Kavanagh the standing army of Irish poets never falls below 20,000! At Laurel Villa you will come across the work of some of the more eminent ones, past and present. Naturally, pride of place goes the locally-born and much-loved poet Seamus Heaney. If you are a follower of Seamus’ poetry or someone who just wants to find out a little bit about him and the area he came from … then Laurel Villa B & B is the place to stay. Our guest bedrooms are dedicated to the great Ulster poets MacNeice, Kavanagh, Longley and Heaney. Go to Our Guest Rooms to view.