Stones With Stories.  Donated Stones

Many people brought a stone with them to The Gathering of Stones to be built into the monument.

Each stone came with a story and history. If these stones could talk, the sound echoing around Lough Boora would be deafening.

 The 'Emigrant stones' from Battery Park in New York, USA

A number of historically significant stones have made long journeys over land and sea to be incorporated into the monument. The most poignant of all is the four 'Emigrant stones' from Battery Park in New York.

For millions of emigrants, their first steps in the New World would have been onto these stones after registering at Ellis Island, including nearly everyone from Ireland during the famine years and after.

These stones seemed to really capture the public's imagination, with a constant stream of visitors throughout the four days having their photos taken standing on them.

These stones had a long journey, starting back in the early 1800's when they were quarried in various parts of New England to become part of the emigrant docks at Battery park that date back to the 1700's.

Here they lay on the rivers edge until their removal by RJW Campbell during the reconstruction of Battery Park in 2001.

When the president of RJW Campbell, Bobby Watt heard about the event, he immediately offered these stones to the project. Bobby, a Scottish stonemason and Stone Foundation Member based in Canada is also a fine songwriter and singer.

 In the video below he tells the story of the stones and also signs the poignant "Whispering Stones" a song he composed after being inspired by the event. This song brought a tear to many an eye when first played at "Stories and Stones" and again when reprised by Rónán Crehan at the conclusion of the 4 day event.

Stones donated by the DSWA UK Wales branch

We were also lucky enough to have Sean Adcock join us for the event. Sean is a DSWAUK master Dry Stone Waller and Secretary of the North Wales Branch of the DSWA. He has prolifically produced books and papers on the craft of dry stone waling and standards in the profession over the years. Sean is the editor of Stonechat magazine amongst many other contributions to the world of dry stone building. He also oversaw the building of the central feature over the course of the event. In the months leading up to the event Sean helped behind the scenes with working out the structural details of the inner structure.

 

The DSWA also wanted to donate a stone to the project, Sean was also involved in the organisation and transportation of two stones from Wales to Lough Boora.Originally Sean was working on getting a boulder from the birthplace of Saint Patrick in Banwen (near Neath, South Wales) but when the logistics of this became impossible, he managed to find two other historic Welsh stones with an Irish connection to bring with him. These were a sleeper stone from the Ffestiniog Railway and a stone from the old Breakwater Quarry.

The Ffestiniog Railway stone (Wales, UK)

The Ffestiniog Railway started life as a gravity/horse drawn tramway built in the 1830s, to provide a transport route from the Slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port at Porthmadog, a distance of over 13 miles.

 

The creation of the tramway was made possible largely through Irish investment. The original tramway rails were secured to stone blocks, with around 4000 to a mile.

When the tramway became a narrow gauge steam railway in the 1860s - the world's first narrow gauge railway built to haul over a longer distance than just short shunting.

 

At this point much of the track-bed was widened and the a new rail/sleeper system introduced.

Many of the stone blocks were incorporated into the new trackside walls, an now one sits in our monument walls.

 

 Read more about these stone in Sean Adcocks article here

The Breakwater Quarry Stone (Holyhead, Wales)

Holyhead is the main port in North Wales and provides a direct link with Dublin via the Stena Line and Irish Ferries.

 

At 1.7 miles in length, Holyhead breakwater is the longest in the UK. Started in 1845, it took 28 years to complete and consumed over 7 million tonnes of stone quarried from nearby Holyhead Mountain. These quarries now form part of Breakwater Country Park.

 

The last blasted rockfall remains alongside one quarry face and a stone from alongside this has been donated to the gathering of Stones by Breakwater Country Park/Isle of Anglesey County Council with the permission of RSPB and NRW.

 

Read more about these stone in Sean Adcocks article here

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©  The Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland 2019