Laurel Villa in the Media | TV Shows | Local Celebrities visit Magherafelt
A field day for Seamus Heaney fanatics
A tour through County Derry, whose landscape inspired many of the poet’s best-known works
Passing Laurel Villa, you’d never suspect it was a Tardis. You have to enter this modestly proportioned house on the outskirts of the County Derry town of Magherafelt to taste its magic. Your first impression is of a beautifully kept B&B. Then you notice the photographs and paintings lining the walls: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney. There are poems printed on linen, and first editions in glass cases. Upstairs you pass bedroom doors: the Kavanagh Room, the MacNeice Room, the Heaney Room. Laurel Villa is a shrine (though a very unstuffy one) –a genuine House of Poetry.
Gerardine Kielt keeps things immaculate, and cooks the best breakfasts in Ireland; Eugene, her husband, organises poetry readings at Laurel Villa, and maintains contact with poets far and wide –including Seamus Heaney himself, the most celebrated and best-read living poet in these islands.
Lesser Spotted Ireland: On the trail of Seamus Heaney’s ghost
Local historian Eugene Kielt offers a tour of Derry locations linked to the late poet
Heaney country licks around the top-left-hand corner of Lough Neagh in east Co Derry. To the west are the Sperrins, and, on the far side of them, Derry city. The land between these two great topographical features is mostly flat – some of it bog but a lot of good farming land too.
This is the landscape that produced the poet. The place and its people were the muse for much of his memorable work.
I’m sitting in a car on Hillhead Road with Eugene Kielt, a local historian and enthusiast for all things Heaney. We are about 100m down from Mossbawn Farm, the poet’s childhood home.
Seamus Heaney HomePlace
We are just 5 miles (ten minute drive) away from the wonderful Seamus Heaney HomePlace Visitor Centre in Bellaghy, opened September 2016, celebrating the life and legacy of Seamus Heaney.
Rhyme and reason: Seamus Heaney HomePlace pays lyrical tribute to the poet
There is no better way to discover the “everyday” landscapes that inspired much of Heaney’s poetry than with Eugene Kielt, who not only runs the elegant Laurel Villa guesthouse (rooms from £40, guided tour from £12pp) in Magherafelt, just five miles from Bellaghy, but is also a Blue Badge Guide specialising in Heaney country. The countryside here is ordinary, flat and bog-filled, the Sperrin Mountains to the west and Lough Neagh to the south east, but Heaney found beauty in the ordinary.
Laurel Villa on TV & Radio:
Over the years we have been recognised as the No.1 destination for Seamus Heaney fans and cultural visitors. Laurel Villa has featured on countless TV and Radio programmes, including BBC’s Northern Exposure with Gary Lineker, The One Show and Radio Ulster’s Your Place & Mine.
Hairy Biker and Heaney enthusiast Si King took our tour of Heaney Country for BBC’s The One Show and the tour has been featured on Radio Ulster’s Your Place and Mine. Travel journalists from all over thew world have written about the tour, including Hong Kong based Fionnuala McHugh, Catherine Mack, Christopher Somerville and Eoghan Corry, as have writers such as award-winning novelist MJ Hyland. The Out of The Marvellous RTE documentary and TG4’s Tribute to Seamus Heaney have also used our guiding services.
Read Media Reviews:
> Voyage into Heaney Country at HomePlace by Tadgh Peavoy Irish Times
> Journal of The Retired Teachers Association of Ireland
> Rhyme and reason: Seamus Heaney HomePlace pays lyrical tribute to the poet
> Lesser Spotted Ireland: On the trail of Seamus Heaney’s ghost
> On the Seamus Heaney trail in Northern Ireland: Revisiting the landscape that served as his muse