Set in stone - St. Colmcille to travel back to Tory!

Saint Colmcille will travel back to Tory at the end of the month - and is certain to greet islanders with a stony silence.

Saint Colmcille will travel back to Tory at the end of the month - and is certain to greet islanders with a stony silence.

But they’ll, nevertheless, be more than pleased by his presence with a newly sculptured statue set to take pride of place outside the chapel of his name.

The Gartan born saint spent some time on the island where he established a monastery and, now, he is to be honoured with an initiative commissioned by locally based priest, Fr. Francis Ferry.

On Tuesday, the island curate visited the workshop of acclaimed Letterkenny sculptor, Redmond Herrity, to see how the work is progressing. “It’s a powerful piece of craftsmanship - I’m very pleased with it,” he indicated.

Following advice from his colleague, Fr. Michael McKeever in Letterkenny, Fr. Francis approached Redmond at the end of January to ask him to undertake the work, bringing with him a small statuette to provide the artist with some measure of a likeness.

Putting the finishing touches to his almost life-size statue, Redmond used Wicklow stone to sculpt the figure. “It will have taken me around three months to complete it. I’m happy with the way it has turned out.”

As is the case with any similar work, the local sculptor asked fellow craftsman, Christy Keeney to model a head from clay which he has reproduced in granite. “I also took a mould of my own hands and had it copied.”

When the granite figure is erected in front of St. Colmcille Chapel, it will depend on light and sun to emphasise and contrast the facial features.

The detailed texturised work also includes a dove at the feet of the saint who was born in 521 A.D.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful creation and will stand at the front of the chapel gazing at the mainland. We hope to transport it to the island on Monday May 30th in good time for St. Colmcille’s Feast Day on June 9th,” said Fr. Francis.

“I gave him a haircut to get him ready for the boat!,” quipped Redmond.

He’s planning to sculpt a series of miniature copies of the figure of St. Colmcille which will go on sale on the island’s craft shop and other outlets.