Charles praises 'universal voice' of Seamus Heaney

The Prince of Wales speaks to guests in the Helicon, a performance space, during a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall to the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland
The Prince of Wales speaks to guests in the Helicon, a performance space, during a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall to the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland

The Prince of Wales has said overcoming barriers makes friendships stronger and varied traditions can come together in even greater harmony, as he addressed an event in Northern Ireland.

He visited a centre dedicated to Nobel Laureate poet Seamus Heaney in his native Bellaghy, Co Londonderry.

A general view of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.

A general view of the new centre in Bellaghy, dedicated to Seamus Heaney during their visit to Northern Ireland.

Charles said poets help people discover their shared humanity and revealed he had commissioned a musical work in Irish, English and Ulster Scots.

He added: "I hope in some way, therefore, that this work will help show how our varied histories, voices and traditions can create all the greater harmony when they come together.

"After all, it is differences that make harmony possible, even as it is the barriers that have been overcome to make friendship all the stronger."

He alluded to Northern Ireland's emergence from conflict.

The Prince of Wales looks at a CT scanner during a tour of the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry during their visit to Northern Ireland

The Prince of Wales looks at a CT scanner during a tour of the North West Cancer Centre at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry during their visit to Northern Ireland

"This part of the world has seen more than its fair share of rain, in every sense. I can only pray that the songs which follow will be all the sweeter for that."

He said that was in the spirit of Heaney whose work they were celebrating.

"One who saw differences as opportunities for understanding and exchange, one who learned in Bellaghy what it means to belong and who, with grace and generosity, extended that belonging to the world."

He said the Seamus Heaney HomePlace visitor centre reciprocated the tremendous pride the famous son of Bellaghy felt for his native soil.

"What is encouraging too is the way this centre, like Seamus Heaney's work itself, reaches out across different communities, across different countries and different nations, finding as he did a universal voice in the accent of a particular place."

He said they had worked together on a summer school with the hope of fostering that sentiment.

"So often it is the poets who can find the words which identify the essential beyond the superficial, which reveal the sense beyond the slogan, and which can discover beyond the external things which separate us the humanity we share."

The Prince met Heaney's brother Hugh, another man with a keen interest in farming, and they exchanged a few words on the subject.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were also greeted by Heaney's widow Marie and other family members.

They visited the People and Place Gallery and listened to an audio recording of Heaney reading his work entitled Digging.

They also viewed the Word Horde display, where they were given an overview of the words used in Heaney's poetry, and in the study area they were shown original manuscripts of his work.

They then saw an excerpt from The Burial At Thebes, a play by Heaney, performed by students from Rainey Endowed School.

During the performance a crown fell from one actor's head and landed at Charles's feet.

SEE: Charles and Camilla tour Seamus Heaney centre as they begin visit