Two of Seamus Heaney’s greatest literary influences – poet Patrick Kavanagh and writer Michael McLaverty – are being celebrated with a number of events taking place as part of the newly unveiled autumn programme at Seamus Heaney HomePlace.
In a cross-border collaboration funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, HomePlace will be working with the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Monaghan to explore the works of Kavanagh, Heaney and the shared links in their writing. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrick Kavanagh – whose poetry Heaney described as combining “bag-apron realism and far-horizon vision” – and events will take place in their respective literary centres in both Monaghan and Bellaghy.
The HomePlace events on Saturday 7 October will include a children’s writing workshop on the theme of home, a lecture by Dr Una Agnew evaluating Kavanagh’s influence on Heaney and their respective literary legacies and a performance of Kavanagh’s ‘The Great Hunger’ by the Lyric Theatre, which will meld spoken word, film, and sound to evoke the poet’s exploration of country life.
One of Ireland’s greatest short story writers, Michael McLaverty, died 25 years ago and on Saturday 28 October family members and literary experts will come together to discuss his life, work and relationship with Heaney. The event will feature a reading of Heaney’s ‘Tribute to Michael McLaverty’ by actor Vincent Higgins and will be preceded from Saturday 21 October by ‘Fosterage’, an exhibition exploring McLaverty’s life and work, presented in association with Linen Hall Library.
In ‘Capturing Seamus: The Art of the Portrait’ on Sunday 8 October, three artists who have created a portrait of Heaney – artist Colin Davidson and photographers Eamonn McCabe and Geray Sweeney – will discuss the context and experience of working with him and the process of capturing his essence in just one image, in an event chaired by Declan Long.
Often described as the definitive documentary of the life and work of Seamus Heaney, ‘Out of the Marvellous’ was created in 2009 to mark the poet’s 70th birthday. Filmmaker Charlie McCarthy will discuss the film with BBC Northern Ireland’s Mark Carruthers following a special screening on Saturday 25 November.
Poet and professional glasses-wearer John Hegley makes his HomePlace debut on Friday 20 October with two shows – ‘Peace, Love and Potatoes’, with poems and songs inspired by memories of his childhood and ‘I am a Poetato’, featuring songs, jokes and rhymes, for children aged 8-12 years. The fun continues on Thursday 23 November with actor, comedian and writer Ardal O’Hanlon (‘Father Ted’) who will be in conversation with BBC Northern Ireland’s William Crawley about his wide-ranging career, love of literature and famous acting creations.
Looking back at her career of almost 50 years, her reputation and her legacy, one of Ireland’s most important contemporary novelists Jennifer Johnston will be in conversation with fellow author Martina Devlin on Saturday 14 October.
The explosion of new Irish writing talent comes under the spotlight in two events in the HomePlace this autumn. On Sunday 15 October, ‘Young Blood’ sees three debut authors – actor Ciaran McMenamin, Sally Rooney, one of The Observer’s Rising Stars of 2017 and former journalist June Caldwell – share their fresh and irreverent takes on life in Ireland today. ‘A Constable Calls’ on Saturday 11 November, meanwhile, looks at the rise of crime writing following political changes in Northern Ireland and includes contributions from authors Eoin McNamee, Liz Nugent and Declan Burke.
Award-winning journalist and commentator Fintan O’Toole makes a welcome return to HomePlace on Thursday 7 December to discuss the issues that have dominated the news over the past twelve months – from President Trump to the UK general election and the consequences for the UK and Ireland of triggering Article 50.
The prospect of death and its aftermath for those left behind are explored in two events. On Sunday 5 November, author and journalist Robert McCrum discusses his new book, ‘Every Third Thought’, his literary and personal response to his own mortality and his friendship with and memories of Heaney. In ‘Who Am I Now?’ on Saturday 21 October, actress and comedian Nuala McKeever leads an expressive and creative writing session for anyone living with life-changing loss.
There’s plenty on offer for theatre fans too, with ‘Green and Blue’ from Kabosh Theatre Company looking at the realities of patrolling the border during the conflict on Tuesday 17 October; Stephen Beggs exploring the funny, challenging and emotional issue of fatherhood in ‘My Father’s Chair’on Saturday 4 November and Olivier Award-winning actor Guy Masterson (and nephew of Richard Burton!), bringing the Charles Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ to life in a one-man show just in time for the festive season, on Thursday 14 December.
Tickets for all October – December events at Seamus Heaney HomePlace are on sale now online or from their box office on tel. 028 79387444.