Northern Ireland news

Video: Star-studded event in London hotel to promote Seamus Heaney's rural Bellaghy

Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland; Cllr Kim Ashton, Mid Ulster Council; actors Adrian Dunbar and Bríd Brennan; and Catherine Heaney, at an event in London to celebrate the work of Heaney and to promote Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy. Picture by Malcolm McNally

A STAR-studded event has been held in an iconic London hotel to promote Seamus Heaney's rural Bellaghy.

An invited audience was treated to live performances of Heaney's poetry by award-winning actors Adrian Dunbar and Bríd Brennan on Monday in London's Bloomsbury Hotel as Tourism Ireland and Mid Ulster Council held an event for a `Culturally Curious' British audience.

Hollywood actor Liam Neeson was there in spirit, if not person, having lent his talents to a small screen tribute for the poet's dedicated `HomePlace' visitor attraction.

It was held to promote the attraction in Bellaghy and saw members of the Heaney family also attend to hear Professors Roy Foster and Bernard O'Donoghue engage `In Conversation' about the Co Derry poet and the influence of the area on his work.

A new short film, narrated by Neeson, was also launched.

It showcases Seamus Heaney HomePlace, the beauty of the surrounding countryside and its inspiration for the Nobel Laureate's work.

The hope is to build on the popularity of what has become a successful tourist destination, with more than 40,000 people visiting in its first year.

The complex, which sits on the site of a former police station in Bellaghy, celebrates the Nobel Laureate’s life and literature in an exhibition space filled with personal stories, photographs and artefacts.

Poetry lovers from almost 20 countries, including America, New Zealand and Japan, have already flocked to the centre to pay homage to Heaney, who died in 2013 and is buried in the nearby St Mary's churchyard.

Tourism Ireland also launched a new Seamus Heaney page on its website, Ireland.com, as part of its wider campaign with Mid Ulster Council to promote Seamus Heaney HomePlace.

Julie Wakley of Tourism Ireland said: "We were delighted to host this special Seamus Heaney event, in conjunction with Mid Ulster Council, celebrating the life and literature of one of Ireland's greatest writers and his links with Bellaghy and this beautiful area.

"The new film, Journey to Seamus Heaney HomePlace, and our new pages on Ireland.com, will help to showcase further what makes this area so special."

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