Last weekend saw the 3rd ever West Cork Stone Symposium. Growing from strength to strength, this symposium is directed by local resident and DSWAI member Victor Daly, a stone carver in the area. The festival is co-organised and supported by the Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Cooperative and the Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland.
The first three West Cork Stone Symposia saw the festival move around to various villages on the Sheepshead peninsula. This year the festival was in the largest of the peninsula’s villages, this being the town of Durrus. With a population of just over 300 people, the village big enough to cater for festival goers yet still maintain the intimate feel that’s makes these festivals such a success.
One of the challenges of moving the festival to new locations every year can be getting the local community to buy into the idea. The community in Durras welcomed the festival with open arms and it was this community support that made the festival such a big success, with many participants suggesting at it may just have been the best symposium yet.
The workshops at this year’s festival were facilitated at two locations in the village. The stone carving workshops and talks were held in the Philips Green Centre in the village, with the dry stone walling workshops being facilitated at the newly built GAA pitch on the approach to the village.
Under the watchful eyes of our instructors, 138ft of dry stone wall was built in 3 days by a wonderful group of people who have never dry stone walled before. Each day up to 20 compleate amatures arrived on site at the Muintir Bhaire GAA Club and completed a section of wall from foundation to cope.
Using locally quarried stone from DSWAI member, Tadhg Hegerty’s farm, the Muintir Bhaire GAA Club and local community were absolutely trilled with the results of the wall. The wall creates a boundary to the GAA Pitch car park and will be a lasting tribute to the craft of dry stone walling.
Set into that wall is a pair of hands - modelled on the club's crest - created by John Joe Bowen, who has made a gift of this extraordinary sculpture to the community. The piece, which was crafted from metal reclaimed from local fishing boats, is a beautiful example of skill, creativity, friendship and community experienced at the West Cork Stone Symposium.
The symposium was also delighted to get national radio coverage when a presenter for RTÉ Radio One's, Drivetime show came to experience the symposium.