One Year Into My 'Dream Job' at Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Cathy Brown reflects on the 'challenge, honour and privilege' of being Arts Programmer at Bellaghy's dedicated centre on its first anniversary

Cathy Brown at the Word Hoard

In June 2017 I received a message from a friend that said ‘I see someone is advertising your dream job!’ That job was Arts Programmer at Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy and although it might seem like an exaggeration to call it a dream job, it certainly married my experience as an arts programmer with my love – some would say obsession! - with books and reading.

I was delighted to get the job and from the first day it was a whirlwind of planning and organising for our opening weekend and programme, which hasn’t really stopped.

Heaney HomePlace

There have been many personal highlights over the last year – the emotional blur of the opening weekend and the realisation that I was a part of something momentous; meeting some of my favourite writers and poets; making links with arts organisations across the country and working with some of the best thinkers, theatre makers and musicians that Ireland has to offer.

I’ve served champagne to Paul Brady, bumped into Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in a corridor, saved Michael Morpurgo from his adoring fans and organised a theatre performance in a farmyard barn. To say that each day is different would be an understatement.

However, on a personal level, the main satisfaction I get from my job comes from the relationships I have formed over the past year. The team at HomePlace is a supportive, committed and enthusiastic one and I have made some strong friendships here. I have enjoyed getting to know the extended Heaney family, members of the local community and regular visitors to HomePlace. Hearing visitors’ emotional reaction to HomePlace and how much they enjoy the exhibition and the programme is what makes everything we do worthwhile and what inspires me to do more and to do better.

Above all, what I try to keep in mind on a daily basis, is the wonderful poetry of Seamus Heaney. By keeping his words at the centre of all we do, I feel we can’t go wrong. For myself, the poems and the words have become like maps, guiding me in my work and showing me where I need to go.

It has been a challenge, an honour and a privilege to work at Seamus Heaney HomePlace over this last year, but in some ways I feel we are just beginning and ‘a further shore is reachable from here’.

See what's coming up at Seamus Heaney HomePlace in its Autumn Winter Events Programme and book tickets at