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The Gathering – Water is Life FRIDAY

The Gathering brings together people from all over the Island of Ireland and beyond who are interested in our natural world. They include activists, environmentalists, dancers, singers, historians, scientists, academics, farmers etc. but all are passionate about protecting nature and building community.

Water is Life is the theme for our 19th Gathering at Seamus Heaney Homeplace, on Friday 28 – Saturday 29 June. Our event will have a strong focus on Lough Neagh and we have an array of interesting speakers, artists and activists lined up.


Friday 28 June , 7.30pm – Regulation through Agitation: – The urgent need for an Independent EPA

Friends of the Earth will kick off the weekend of events with an evening of short films, speakers and a panel discussion, focusing on the urgent need for an independent Environmental Protection Agency. Get more information and book your tickets here.


Saturday 29 June, 10am-5pm

The Gathering’s main event will focus on Lough Neagh and include a range of talks, workshops and activities for all.


10am – Morning activity options

A writing workshop with Maura Johnston, local poet and writer
A guided walk to Lough Beg with Thomas McErlean, local historian and archaeologist
A visit to the Homeplace exhibition (entrance fee applicable)
Or just relax in the cafe with a cuppa and a chat
12.30pm – Registration for the main event and an opportunity to grab some lunch

1.30pm – 5pm – Main event

This will consist of a range of talks interspered with song and dance and a coffee break in the middle. Speakers will include: –

Bernadette McAliskey, Civl Rights Campaigner
Tommy Greene, Journalist
Doris Noe, Campaigning Birdwatcher
Alan Keys, Ballinderry Rivers Trust
Les Gornal, Environmental Scientist
James Orr, Friends of the Earth
1.30pm – 5pm – Storytelling with art workshops at times below

1.30 – 2.30pm

3.30 – 4.30pm

Mary Murphy is a writer and illustrator of children’s books who has published more than 45 stories for 4-11 years olds and has just published her first novel. Mary will provide a fun and inclusive workshop for children based on her books ‘Chirp’ and ‘Only a Tree’.

Children need accompanied by an adult.. No creche available but children are welcome to the main Event in The Helicon.

5.30pm – Dinner (vegan)


Saturday 29 June – 7.30pm, Beyond Tradition: ‘Food for my Soul’.

Inspired by rural childhoods and a trip along the River Bann from Portglenone to Lough Neagh, dancer Mary McGuiggan, poet Maura Johnston and musician Paraig O’Brien have created a colourful journey through poetry, music and dance. Joining them will be traditional step dancer Joe McGuiggan, historian and archaeologist Tom McErlean and singer-songwriter Colum Sands.

This event is organised by the Seamus Heaney Homplace – Book your tickets here.


The Gathering would like to thank Zero Waste North West, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Justice Network Ireland (EJNI) and Queens School of Law.


Travel & Accommodation options

There will be a car shuttle service provided from Castledawson roundabout for people travelling by bus from the 212 bus from Derry or Belfast. Please email us if you want to book a place.

212 bus from Derry, departing at 11.30am and arriving 12.30pm
212 bus from Belfast, departing at 12pm and arriving 12.45pm
We will also facilitate a space at the event for organising car sharing for the return journey.

There are various options for accommodation in Bellaghy for anyone wanting to stay over, and parking is available for campervans at Bellaghy Wolfe Tones GAC.

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