Down Memory Lane: Our Seamus Heaney Poetry Evening

A very special mid-summer event took place in June 2009 – a reading at Laurel Villa by the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

The occasion was the 40th Anniversary of the publication of the poet’s second collection Door Into The Dark which first appeared in June 1969. He read a number of poems from the featured collection, including ‘Thatcher’, ‘Relic of Memory’ and ‘A Lough Neagh Sequence’, as well as the poem which gave the collection its title, ‘The Forge’.

The packed audience were also treated to some of his more recent poems such as ‘A Clip’ and ‘Anahorish 1944’ both of which were set in the locality around Mossbawn, Seamus Heaney’s birthplace near Castledawson. For this special occasion he read a brand new poem which featured Magherafelt. The poem was called ‘Route 110’ and it was to appear in his final collection, Human Chain, published four years later in 2013. In characteristic Heaney fashion the poetry was peppered with plenty of amusing and illuminating anecdotes which made for a highly entertaining evening.

This is what Seamus Heaney had to say 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!’ 

On Home Ground Poetry Festival

Seamus Heaney died on 30 August 2013, just three weeks before he was due to open the On Home Ground Poetry Festival  at Laurel Villa. We turned the opening event – and the festival as a whole – into a tribute to him and a celebration of his poetry, with poets, poetry lovers and media converging on Magherafelt from all over the world. Here’s a clip of the tribute event on Friday 20 September 2013: