The Heartland project was undertaken by primary school pupils, resulting in the publication of ‘Heartland’ a collection of poems written by the children following visits to various heritage sites in Mid-Ulster.
The project was led by two education officers from Mid-Ulster Council, Roisin Convery and Peter Lant, who wished to encourage children to explore their heritage with the benefit of improving literacy. This project fitted into the Northern Ireland primary curriculum of ‘The World Around Us’ and ‘Language and Literacy’.
The children, across eight different schools, each visited a local heritage site, including Bellaghy Bawn, Knockmany Passage Tomb, Lissan House and Tirkane Sweathouse; and learned about the unique history of these places from experts. On each visit, Myra Zepf, Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, accompanied the children; and led poetry writing workshops following the visit to help the children express what they had learned on paper.
The Heartland book was launched in May 2019, and is a celebration of both language and built heritage, sharing the wonder and fascination that the children felt about the atmosphere and history of these exciting historic places. The book is available free of charge in visitor information centres across the Mid-Ulster Council area, allowing the public to learn more about their local built heritage in a different way.
This project will have a lasting effect on all those involved, increasing their knowledge and understanding of historic buildings and heritage and increasing their confidence in writing and literacy. For some, this project may even have sparked an interest which will continue for a lifetime.