Heaney and Hewitt poems help inspire classroom creations

By Sara Girvin
BBC News NI north east reporter

Image caption, Northern Ireland artist Ross Wilson, who was friends with Seamus Heaney, helped the children create the pieces

Reflecting on his own school days in the poem, 'The Big Room', John Hewitt once wrote: "Teacher's pet was a title none could claim."

But now his life's work, and that of Seamus Heaney, is helping to inspire future primary school poetry champions.

Children from four schools have unveiled colourful new public art dedicated to the poets in the centre of Ballymoney, County Antrim.

Seamus Heaney's brother, Hugh Heaney, attended the unveiling.

The works were created by pupils from Balnamore Primary School, Landhead Primary School, Cloughmills Primary School and Our Lady of Lourdes.

Image caption, Hugh Heaney said his brother would have enjoyed seeing his poems reflected in public art displays

Mr Heaney said he wished his brother could have been at the display to see the children's creations.

"He'll be four years dead this year, but he's still alive so he is, and will be," he said.

"Seamus would have loved it. He would have been here in the middle of everybody like the rest of us, enjoying it and going for a cup of tea."

Many of the young artists involved were learning about Heaney and Hewitt for the first time.


The man behind the project is artist Ross Wilson, who was a friend of Seamus Heaney.

Image caption, Children from four primary schools teamed up to make the art works

"He probably would have been slightly embarrassed but would have liked it," Mr Wilson said of the poet.

"Seamus was a great poet, a Nobel prize winner, a man of letters but in many ways, a shy and humble man.

"But he had a great ability and talent that will last for generations - that's his legacy and these artworks are part of that legacy as well."

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