By BRIAN MOORE
THERE are just one dozen master stone carvers creating works of art in Ireland today, and ten of them will make their way to the Sheep’s Head Peninsula for the first West Cork Stone Symposium at the end of March.
The three-day event will see master craftsmen from across the country, not only exhibiting their work in Ahakista, but also sharing the techniques and tricks of their once-widespread trade.
‘Where once stone carving was in high demand and a much sought-after trade, today – with the computer-aided machinery available – the craft has all but disappeared,’ Master stone carver and organiser of the West Cork Stone Symposium, Victor Daly, told The Southern Star.
‘The symposium is a great chance for people to see and take part in the craft and perhaps inspire them to try stone carving themselves. We have enthusiasts coming from Canada, Austria, Scotland and of course from Ireland and we are all looking forward to welcoming everybody to West Cork and the Sheep’s Head,’ he said.
The weekend also includes classes and a chance to work at creating a traditional dry stone wall in the village of Ahakista.
‘In areas such as West Cork, dry stone walls are a prominent part of the landscape,’ Victor continued.
‘There is a great interest in learning more about, not only how to build these incredible structures, but also the art of maintaining and caring for these walls that are such an iconic part of the rural landscape.’
With the best stone carvers and dry stone wallers gathering together in Ahakista in March, Victor and his colleagues have decided to present the village and the people of the Sheep’s Head peninsula with a memento of the first stone symposium to take place in West Cork.
‘Over the weekend, we will all be working together on a sculpture, which will be sited in the village and will incorporate a stone monolith, on which will be carved ‘Ahakista’ with a crest and a newly-built dry stone wall.
‘This sculpture will welcome residents and visitors alike to the Sheep’s Head Peninsula. And is our way of thanking the community for their support,’ Victor said.
The West Cork Stone Symposium takes place from Friday March 24th–Sunday March 26th.
To book classes or for more information see www.westcorkstonesymposium.com.