Stillness in Stone: A West Cork Heron

Heron Carving Victor Daly

Herons are a familiar sight here in West Cork. Sometimes they make a sudden huge impression on you as they swoop past in their prehistoric style; at other times, their forms seem to emerge from the landscape as you look at it. The stillness of a heron standing in shallow water, or pausing in a garden, has an amazing quality to it.

In this project, stone became the medium for representing that captivating stillness.

Stone garden ornaments give a timeless quality to the well-planted garden. They always help to guide the eye and dramatise space, but when they represent local wildlife, they add another dimension, reminding us that we share our outdoor spaces with the birds and creatures around us.

We can only imagine what the local herons will make of their new neighbour when they come across him.

Stone and Leather Chair

Celti

Celtic Stone and Leather Chair Project

This stone and leather chair is a unique piece created for a private commission.

It’s an unusual way of bringing traditional stonecraft into the domestic space, and it is a real talking point in its new home!

Celtic Knot Sculpture

Celtic Knot Sculpture by Victor Daly

Celtic Knot Sculpture

The Celtic knot design, familiar to many from the illustrations used in the Book of Kells, remains a design classic.

Here the intricate, interlaced design is dramatically juxtaposed with the strength of stone .

Victor learnt his craft as a stone-carver when he was apprenticed into a family who had passed their skills down from generation to generation. He was the first person from outside the family to be trusted with those skills, and so this sculpture reflects the unbroken traditions of stone-carving and design in Ireland.

 

Restoring Barryscourt Castle


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Victor spent three years working on Barryscourt Castle in east Cork, which is now managed as a historic property by the Office of Public Works.

The castle was originally built in 1206 by the first wave of settlers who came to Ireland with Strongbow. In the years that followed, the castle’s story remained intertwined with the history of colonisation, and the castle’s tower house was added in about 1550. More fortifications were added in the form of a ‘bawn’ or outer wall with three corner towers in Elizabethan times.

The nature of castle construction means that each stage of restoration work must be approached carefully. Each design element needs to remain in keeping with the stonework that surrounds it, and the skills and techniques used to work on one part of the building can be quite distinct from the ones used elsewhere in the same building.

The castle, which is now open to the public, is a great monument to Irish history, and it’s great to see it serving once again as an imposing landmark on the Cork landscape.