Stonemad
carving course reaps rewards

Miche�l Ryan and Theo English with dog Bligh in the Fair Green beside the sculpture of a ram's head carved by Theo. Miche�l carved an owl on another face of the large boulder. Both pieces were inspired by15th century carvings in Holycross Abbey.
Holycross Community Network (H.C.N.) applied for funding for a training course to South Tipperary Development Company and North Tipperary Leader Partnership recently and the successful application meant that numerous people could avail of a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn this ancient skill from one of Ireland’s finest....Philip Quinn, Mr. StoneMad himself.

Holycross Community Network (H.C.N.) applied for funding for a training course to South Tipperary Development Company and North Tipperary Leader Partnership recently and the successful application meant that numerous people could avail of a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn this ancient skill from one of Ireland’s finest....Philip Quinn, Mr. StoneMad himself.

Run by Philip and Liz Quinn of ‘StoneMad’, The Green, Holycross, and in conjunction with Holycross Community Network (H.C.N.) and Holycross Tidy Village Committee, this fantastic course, in stone and wood carving, that took place in the shadows of the picturesque Abbey of Holycross in early 2014.

As a pre-runner to the course, Philip arranged an open day in Holycross on a very wet and windy day. People from near and far were welcome to come along to see what the course would entail. It was an opportunity to check out what the finished products might be and to sign up as a participant. On the day 18 enthusiastic, ‘beginner’ artists enrolled for the course.

At the open day in January, John Bourke, one of the volunteer tour-guides, brought the course participants through Holycross Abbey. Each one identified a particular carving on which to base their work. John told them the relevance of each image chosen, its significance and its rational within the Abbey setting. The use of limestone, sandstone and oak was a conscious decision by Philip, to replicate the materials used in the original and restored Abbey. The stone was sourced locally, from The Rock, Ballycahill while the oak was sourced in Fethard.

The course began in January and on St Patrick’s weekend, the first of the finished pieces were brought to their ‘final resting places’. On Friday evening, under cover of darkness, the first piece, the ‘coiled head’, was places upon a specially created mound in the Green. This head lies, as if resting, looking down towards the Abbey. The following morning, before 8am, the second rock with carvings of a ram, an owl and a tree was placed at the top of the fair green. Two other pieces, one in oak and one in sandstone, followed. Four wonderful creations were in place for locals and visitors alike to enjoy, to discuss and decipher, to agree or disagree over. While there is still a little ‘dressing’ work to be completed on the mounds, the carvings have made a noted impression on everyone who has laid eyes on them. Two more will be erected in the near future.

Whatever one thinks of the pieces, one has to agree that they are a credit to those who worked on them and to StoneMad for facilitating the course. The support of NTLP and STDC in funding this exciting venture is greatly appreciated by HCN and all concerned. Without this valuable funding mechanism, local e!orts, such as this course, would simply not be possible.