This month, the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 is celebrating all things local and Tourism Northern Ireland is asking everyone in NI to take things one step further, by writing a fun poem inspired by our local food and drink.
One of the world’s best-known poets is also from Northern Ireland, Seamus Heaney, and he often wrote about the food he encountered. In Digging, he talks about potatoes and in Blackberry Picking, he said fondly, “You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet / Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it”.
There are literary tours dedicated to him, like the Seamus Heaney Tours and Bellaghy Bawn, and a guest house, Laurel Villa in Magherafelt, which is just 3 miles from his birthplace, where you can stay in rooms named after other great NI poets - MacNeice, Kavanagh and Longley.
“We want people to have a bit of rhyming fun,” said Rachel Quigg, Communications and Destination PR Officer. “We have so many tremendous local brands in Northern Ireland like Bushmills, Tayto, Abernethey Butter, Armagh Cider, I could go on, that people can use as inspiration for their poems.
“Not only that, some of the world’s best-known writers are from Northern Ireland, like CS Lewis and John Hewitt, so what better way of celebrating our food and literary history than combining the two in a poetry competition.”
Tourism Northern Ireland has supplied a number of different ways for you to upload your creative and fun poems – via social media using hashtag #OdetoFood, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on Facebook tagging @discovernorthernireland by Monday 29 February. The best poem will win one night’s bed and breakfast in stunning, Laurel Villa boutique guest house in Magherafelt for two people and entry for two on the Seamus Heaney Tour.
Rachel continued: “You might write a poem in four lines or a couple of paragraphs – as long as it’s inspired by our local food and drinks it’s a contender. We would like to encourage entries from children, as well as adults, and remember everyone to please keep them clean.”
To get things started, Tourism Northern Ireland have got into the spirit of things by coming up with their very own food-themed rhyme –
There was a young man from Newtownabreda,
Who was partial to a piece of toasted Veda,
He loved honey and cheese,
And a big feed of peas,
Potato bread, sausages and soda!
For more information on Year of Food & Drink 2016 visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/yearoffoodanddrink2016. You can keep up to date with what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #EnjoyNI16.