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Queen’s hosts evening of conversation, poetry and music as part of the Agreement 25 conference

The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast staged Seamus Heaney Centre Presents… HOPE, an evening of conversation, poetry and music at the Mandela Hall as part of the Agreement 25 conference.

Tara Lynn O'Neill and Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee
Tara Lynne O'Neill and Lisa McGee

A celebration of arts and culture in Northern Ireland, the event attracted some of Northern Ireland’s top writers, poets and musicians and was hosted by award-winning novelist, screenwriter and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, Glenn Patterson.

In addition to readings by artist and author Oliver Jeffers, poets Leontia Flynn and Nick Laird from the Seamus Heaney Centre, and Zara Meadows, a second-year undergraduate in the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s, there was music from Gary Lightbody who with special guests Iain Archer, Miriam Kaufmann and Graham Hopkins, premiered three songs based on Seamus Heaney’s poems, read on the night by Sarah Greene and Richard Dormer.

Gary Lightbody, singer, songwriter and musician commented: “I’m a big fan of Heaney and a big fan of hope, so when I was asked to take part, I said yes straight away.”

The second half was a Derry Girls takeover, with series creator Lisa McGee and actor Tara Lynne O’Neill in conversation between clips from the hour-long special that brought season three of Derry Girls to a close.

Speaking at the event, Tara Lynne O’Neill, Derry Girls actor commented: “It is a real honour to be at the Seamus Heaney Centre HOPE event tonight, especially with Lisa McGee, representing the last episode of season three of Derry Girls which covered the Good Friday Agreement. Tonight is aptly named, it is a night of hope and a celebration of all the things the Good Friday Agreement has brought us and a reminder of the hope that we have to hold on to.”

Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, Glenn Patterson said: “The ‘Presents’ events are a regular part of our programme at the Seamus Heaney Centre. The inspiration for ‘Hope’ was the final episode of Derry Girls – the mood that it captured, in some ways setting the tone for this entire 25th anniversary celebration. The fact that everyone we invited to take part agreed with such a will is testament to the power of that word as well as the enduring influence of, and affection for, Seamus Heaney. It was also – and never dismiss the importance of this – a huge amount of fun.”

All proceeds generated from tickets for the event will go to Fighting Words NI, a charity that delivers creative writing opportunities for children and young people across Northern Ireland.

To find out more about the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, please visit:


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