Anahorish is a small rural settlement in South Derry. It is the anglicised version of the Irish Ait Fior Uisce / Cnoc Fior Uisce – which in its pure translation means place of true water / hill of true water. At one time there were 19 spring wells on the hill from which local people sourced water for all their needs.
It was recorded as a townland in the Religious Census of Ireland in 1766 and is marked as Anahoris on Duff’s Map of Lough Neagh printed in 1785. The hill is bordered on north and west by the main Derry to Belfast Road and on the south by the Moyola River and on the east the farmland runs into the Creagh.
Anahorish is the place featured directly in two of Seamus Heaney’s Poems. The first Anahorish feature in the 1972 collection Wintering Out and it describes the first hill on Seamus’ Horizon. He talks about how –
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills.
Anahorish 1944 featured in the 2006 collection District and Circle and the poem opens with –
‘We were killing pigs when the Americans arrived.
A Tuesday morning, sunlight and gutter-blood
Outside the slaughterhouse.
In the poem Seamus placed himself in the place of Malachy’s Uncles who killed pigs each Tuesday morning at the Slaughterhouse in Anahorish owned by Malachy’s Grandfather. Malachy uses the slaughterhouse as the base for Anahorish Preserves.
Anahorish Hill gets a mention in the poem A Kite for Aoife in Seamus’s final collection Human Chain published in 2010.
Anahorish Primary school is where Seamus Heaney attended primary school but it is not the subject of any of the Anahorish Poems. The first school in the area was located on Anahorish Hill and existed in 1854 and since then it has moved about 4 times ending at its current location on the Blackpark Road about 2 miles from Anahorish itself.