Secondary school students are being given a unique opportunity to get out into the landscape that inspired poet Seamus Heaney in an innovative new education programme.

The “My Place within the Landscape” programme has just been launched and features field trips to selected natural heritage sites and activities within the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy. 

Students will participate in a session at HomePlace and an outdoor learning activity exploring first-hand the Nobel laureate’s poetry in the very landscape around Lough Neagh and Lough Beg that inspired so much of his work, taking in Toner’s Bog, Church Island, turf-cutting and farming.

Participants will take inspiration from the landscape and produce their own poetry and supporting portfolio, using their ‘outdoor classroom’ experience to develop an increased awareness of their own sense of place and to connect them with their natural heritage.

Developed by the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in partnership with Seamus Heaney HomePlace and RSPB NI, the year-long My Place within the Landscape programme is being piloted among Key Stage 3 students from five local secondary schools (St Pius X College, Magherafelt; Sperrin Integrated College, Magherafelt; St. Mary's College, Clady; St Patrick's, Maghera, and Magherafelt High School).

The programme will include workshops and school visits by project officers and will culminate in a Celebration Day at HomePlace in March, once all the projects have been assessed.

Conor Jordan, Chair of Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Forum reflected that, “This is an excellent example of how partnership working can lead to the creation of a programme that helps promote a greater understanding of our landscape heritage and the literary value it holds for the observer.”

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, added support to the programme stating, “Seamus Heaney HomePlace is delighted to be part of this exciting project that ensures the inspiration taken from the landscape which is so evident in Seamus Heaney’s poetry is passed on to the next generation. We look forward to reading the work that will be produced by the pupils.”

Joanne Sherwood, Director of RSPB NI, said, “This excellent programme gives students the opportunity to experience first-hand the very landscapes that inspired poems such as ‘Digging’, ‘Blackberry-Picking’ and ‘The Strand at Lough Beg’. They will learn about the value of conservation in their local area, recognising the richness and importance of their natural heritage while exploring topics across the curriculum.”

* For more information on the Education Programme, contact Siobhan Thompson, Natural Heritage Officer, Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership. Phone 028 3831 1688 or email

Photos (c) Adrian Robinson.