Joe Mahon returns to UTV on Sunday night at 7pm with ‘Mahon's Way’ and he’s in Bellaghy, exploring Seamus Heaney’s Homeplace and the surrounding area, finding out from where he got his inspiration for his poetry.
At the Seamus Heaney Homeplace, which celebrates the life and works of Ireland’s Nobel Prize-winning poet, Joe meets up with manager Brian McCormick, who takes Joe on a tour of the splendidly appointed, always evolving, state-of-the-art, exhibition space, and introduces him to their latest idea – the Open Ground Project.
Visitors can hear a recording of Heaney’s own voice reading some of his best-known poems, not in the Homeplace, but at the actual locations in which the poems are set.
Joe then joins Moneymore poet and writer Maura Johnston at a number of these locations, including Lough Beg and Castledawson, to discuss Heaney’s use of the words and phrases that seeped into his vocabulary while growing up amid the farmyards and townlands of South Derry.
Maura has recently published a glossary with the intriguing title, “Aftergrass and Yellow Boots”, which details the origin and the meaning of many of the more obscure terms – Irish, English and Ulster-Scots - that appear in his poems as a result.
Finally, on the slopes of the townland of Fallalea near the Glenshane Pass, Joe meets Grainne Milner-McLoone, a PhD student whose work is breathing new life into the vast song collection assembled by Sam Henry in the first half of the 20th century for his “Songs of the People” series in the Northern Constitution newspaper.
Grainne is not only tracing the origins of these songs back to the homesteads of their creators but, being a musician herself, she’s also making fresh recordings of her favourites among them. Keep an ear out for her rendition of “Sweet Falallea”, a song for which Joe has a particular fondness!
‘Mahon's Way’ is produced by Westway Film Productions for UTV, and supported by Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund. The series is sponsored by Warmflow Engineering. You can watch this episode on Sunday 4 September at 7.30pm on UTV and on catch up on www.itv.com/utvprogrammes.
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