Heaney family farm gets go ahead for microbrewery

Council gives green light for Heaney Farmhouse Brewery with taproom

The family farm that once inspired Seamus Heaney is set for a new chapter after planning chiefs agreed to back a proposal to develop a microbrewery on the site in Co Derry.

Mid Ulster District Council has given the green light to a group of entrepreneurs, with close connections to one of Ireland’s best-loved poets, to develop a microbrewery, taproom and exhibition space on the existing Heaney family farm in Bellaghy.

The Heaney Farmhouse Brewery, which was set up by Mal McCay and his wife Suzanne, who is a niece of the late Seamus Heaney, would like to have the brewery up and running by October.

“We have started the tender process to develop the microbrewery and we’re optimistically planning to be in production in Bellaghy within the next five months. Our borehole on the farm is all ready to go and we’re really excited,” Mr McCay said.


Heaney Farmhouse Brewery has a small portfolio of ales which were produced using the facilities at Boundary Brewery, a co-operative brewery based in east Belfast.

Mr McCay hopes to grow the new brewery into a rural enterprise that employs locals. “It is still very much a working family in Bellaghy but what we hope to do now is create a new focus on the farm that will create a new chapter for the farm. We want to protect its future and respect its past,” Mr McCay said.

Heaney Farmhouse Brewery’s beers are available in independent off licences across Northern Ireland but once it starts brewing in Bellaghy there are plans to start selling outside of its home market.

“We’re exporting on a small scale to France and Denmark at the moment and we want to expand on that, but what we’re really hoping to do is expand into the Republic once we get the brewery going,” Mr McCay added.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business