‘Save Heaney Country’ campaign bids to stop road that threatens poet’s birthplace

The planned dual carriageway will pass within 100 metres of Seamus Heaney's homeplace, Mossbawn. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A campaign to ‘Save Heaney Country’ has been launched to halt roadworks which threaten the poet’s birthplace.

The planned dual carriageway in Antrim, Northern Ireland (A6) will pass within 100m of the poet’s homeplace, Mossbawn — the setting for many of his poems, including Digging.

“The gentle rural Seamus Heaney landscape, inspiration to his Nobel-prize winning literature, is under an unfathomable threat,” said Dermott Hickson, who has started a petition to back the campaign.

Mr Hickson named several of the Nobel laureate’s poems inspired by the family home in Co Antrim.

“It (the planned road) passes within 100m of the Heaney home, Mossbawn, setting for countless poems, and will permanently destroy the scenic landscape surrounding it. Anahorish (the small area named in title of two world famous Heaney poems), The Broagh, The Hillhead, Lagan’s Road, The Sluggan, and The Strand at Lough Beg all feature prominently in his work and all stand to be permanently altered and brutalised,” said Mr Hickson.

The campaign has also received endorsements from well-known people such as singer Lisa Hannigan.

Mr Heaney, who died in 2013, campaigned against the road going ahead in 2007.

“I am very, very happy to write to the people involved and the Department of the Environment. That part of the country does mean a lot to me, especially its remoteness,” he told the Daily Telegraph at the time.

“My feeling was that when I saw the possible direction of the motorway I thought there was an alternative possibility to take it though an old aerodrome where there is an industrial estate and so on, which wouldn’t be as much of a wound on the ecology,” he added.

Mr Heaney also referenced WB Yeats in his argument at the time.

“If Galway City Council was going to run a motorway near the swans at Coole Park (the inspiration for The Wild Swans at Coole) there would be an international outcry,” he said.

Works on the £160m (€188m) A6 project will get under way next month.

Mr Hickson plans to present the signed petition to three ministers, including Northern Ireland’s Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard.


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