Dry Stone Walls

Dry Stone Walls

Celtic Cross at night in a wall constructed during the 2015 International Irish-Canadian Dry Stone Festival opposite the Island school on lands owned by Eloise and Dayle Gowan

Celtic Cross at night in a wall constructed during the 2015 International Irish-Canadian Dry Stone Festival opposite the Island school on lands owned by Eloise and Dayle Gowan

Amherst Island has Canada’s best collection of dry stone walls.

The Island celebrated its heritage with the Irish-Canadian International Dry Stone Festival in September 2015 sponsored by Dry Stone Canada and organized by Islander Andrea Cross.  Wallers and Stone Carvers from England, Ireland, Scotland, the United States and across Canada constructed the legacy wall shown above and an Irish sampler wall. Eloise and Dayle Gowan generously allowed the walls to be constructed on their property and supported the Festival in many ways.  A children’s “spud walling” workshop, exhibits, and musicians added to the festivities.

Special guests included His Excellency Dr. Ray Bassett, Irish Ambassador to Canada; the Honourable Michael Couteau, Ontario Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport; MPP Sophie Kiwala; Loyalist Township Mayor Bill Lowry; author Jane Urquhart; Women’s Institute President Joyce Haines; and their families.  Dr. Bassett installed a time capsule; Jane Urquhart laid a stone “REMEMBER THEM” to commemorate the Irish connection; Joyce Haines laid a stone “Ards”  carried by a waller from Ireland from the Women’s Institute in the Ards peninsula; and a stone carved “Crowe” honoured those who constructed dry stone walls on Amherst Island.  The legacy walls are located on Front Road opposite the Island school just west of the intersection in Stella.

Remember Them carved by Danny Barber and embedded in a Feidin Wall. This stone was laid in September 2015 by Jane Urquhart, author of The Stone Carvers

Remember Them carved by Danny Barber and embedded in a Feidin Wall. This stone was laid in September 2015 by Jane Urquhart, author of The Stone Carvers

A view of the Remember Them stone from a distance

A view of the Remember Them stone from a distance

Joyce Haines Amherst Island Women's Institute President assisted by Norman Haddow laying a stone sent from the Women's Institute in Ards Ireland

Joyce Haines Amherst Island Women’s Institute President assisted by Norman Haddow laying a stone sent from the Women’s Institute in Ards Ireland

Wallers created a legacy ocular structure embedded with a Celtic cross.  The cross has an opening that aligns with the setting sun on the fall solstice and illuminates a Claddagh carved by Tracey Mahaffey.  It was a magical moment on the last day of the Festival when wallers and the public together sang “Here Comes The Sun” and the the sun broke through dark clouds to shine on the Claddagh.

Sun-through-the-Ocular

Sun-through-the-Ocular

Claddagh carved by Tracey Mahaffey Master Carver from Rhode Island. Photo by Dom Keogh

Claddagh carved by Tracey Mahaffey Master Carver from Rhode Island. Photo by Dom Keogh

 

Wallers Jumping for Joy

Wallers Jumping for Joy

Participants in the wallers course under the guidance of Norm Haddow, the Queen’s Own Waller from Balmoral Castle Scotland, created a Feidin or Irish Sampler Wall.

Irish Sampler Wall

Irish Sampler Wall

Rick Mercer captured the essence of the Festival in this amazing clip broadcast on Rick Mercer Live:

Andrea Cross and Dry Stone Canada were honoured to receive the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Heritage Excellence in Conservation to mark the success of the Festival and the preservation of dry stone walls on the Island.

Take time to explore the Island’s dry stone walls in a driving tour.  Museum staff will be happy to provide a brochure and additional information.

Dry Stone Wall Locations

 

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