On Home Ground this year will celebrate the late great Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.  The festival will host a collection of literary events with a varied programme of entertainment with emphasis on the culture and creative vibrancy of the local people and countryside of “Seamus Heaney Country”  We are thrilled to have gathered a high calibre of locally and internationally renowned writers, musicians, artists , literary organisations and publishers to pay special tribute to the poet and his work.

The Verbal Arts Centre is unique in its promotion of language and literature.  Situated in Derry~Londonderry on the City walls, our ethos is to engage, educate and enthuse through the arts and development of written and spoken word. 
We are honoured to have forged a strong artistic partnership between ourselves at the Verbal Arts Centre and Laurel Villa, and are dedicated to continuing the celebration of the life, work and legacy of Seamus Heaney through the arts.

I first heard Seamus Heaney at an event in Magherafelt in 1977. He was already something of a crowd-puller. Over thirty years later he came to this small guest house, not exactly a bastion of academia, and treated a small group of us to a magical night of poems, stories and humour. A few days later Gerardine and I got a letter from him thanking us for having him. Thinking about those things, I feel they summed up what has attracted me to Seamus Heaney down the years, things over and above his gifts as a poet. His charisma, his loyalty to his home ground, his thoughtfulness and his humility. I feel that we have much to celebrate and still much to learn from Seamus Heaney.

~Eugene Kielt~

Festival Highlights

see full programme

At A Glance…

Thursday 11th September
Day 1

School workshops in Illustration and Creative Writing in Bellaghy, Reading Rooms in Bellaghy, Evening Sessions in Laurel Villa.

Saturday 13th September
Day 3

Illustration workshops and Creative Writing session open to the public, Stanzas and Scones with Guest Poetry Readings, Discussions and Poetry Readings, Exhibition Launch, Music Performances, Evening Events.

Friday 12th September
Day 2

School workshops in Illustration and Creative Writing in The Bridewell and Magherafelt Library, Stanzas and Scones guest Poetry Readings, Exhibition Colin Davidson, Laureate na nÓg visit, Discussions and Poetry Readings, Reading Rooms, Evening Events.

Sunday 14th September
Day 4

Illustration workshops and Creative Writing workshops open to the public, Stanzas and Scones with Guest Poetry Readings, Discussions and Poetry Readings, Exhibitions, Music Performances, Closing Event.


  • Photo of Laurel Villa
    Laurel Villa is a boutique guesthouse in the very centre of Magherafelt Town. It offers an unrivaled blend of comfort, style, unique features, great food and personal service. Laurel Villa is especially sought after for their expertise in ancestry search and as a mecca for devotees of poet Seamus Heaney.

    Laurel Villa,
    60 Church St,
    BT45 6AW

    028 7930 1459

  • Photo of The Bridewell
    Magherafelt Tourist Information Centre, also known as The Bridewell, is housed within the walls of the old gaol- right in the heart of the town centre.

    The centre is open all year round and provides the Magherafelt public and the visiting tourist with everything you ever needed to know about Magherafelt and the surrounding area.

    Magherafelt Tourist Information Centre,
    The Bridewell,
    6 Church Street,
    BT45 6AN

    028 7963 1510

  • Photo of Magherafelt Library
    Magherafelt Library is housed in the Bridewell building, an old courthouse and gaol. The site has a long history as a place of worship dating back to 1425. The Courthouse was added in 1804. In 1890 alterations were carried out and the Bridewell became the Town Hall. In the 1940s a Public Library was opened, with many socials and dances taking place around the books!

    September 4th - 30th - a display to mark the first anniversary of the death of our Nobel laureate and poet - ‘A Celebration of the life and work of Seamus Heaney 1939 to 2013’.

    The Bridewell,
    Magherafelt Library,
    6 Church Street,
    County Londonderry,
    BT45 6AN

    028 7963 2278