Second visit to Seamus Heaney country

I returned to County Londonderry in late February and was able to take advantage of settled weather prior to the arrival of the “beast from the East”.

I had several objectives in mind: further exploration of the Moyola river and identification of the Riverbank field referenced in Heaney’s poetry; the two limits (as Heaney described them) of his childhood imagination, namely the mountain Slieve Gallion and Lough Beg; the Sluggan, little more than a ditch, but forming the boundary between two townlands and two dioceses, a liminal signifier to which Heaney attached great significance.

The construction of the Belfast-Derry motorway extension is now encroaching within yards of Heaney’s birthplace at Mossbawn and the adjacent meeting-hall of the Ancient Order of Hibernians is being demolished. I was pleased to have photographed the Hall on my visit last November.

From County Londonderry, I travelled to Boa Island in County Fermanagh –  the site of the two-faced “Janus” stone which was the subject of Heaney’s poem,  “The January God” – and thence to Station Island, a site of Catholic pilgrimage, the title and inspiration of Heaney’s verse sequence referencing among other things the horrors of the Northern Ireland “Troubles”.


Moyola River


Moyola 20
Lough Beg


Slieve Gallion
Slieve Gallion



The Sluggan




Moyola 10
Motorway construction close to Heaney’s birthplace



Boa Island (the Janus stone)



Station Island
Station Island