Speech by Alderman JAMES KEMMY,T.D.
At the opening of one man show at the Solomon Gallery, Dublin,
Tom Glendon’s exhibition is not the tentative explorations
of some fledgling student but shows all the assurance and sensitivity
of the master craftsman that he is. The work has a range of images
in stone, wood and bronze which he has gathered and retained over
the last 24 years in his work as a stone carver throughout Ireland.
In these works, he has brought all of his creativity, craftsmanship
and practical experience into play. This exhibition, then, is a
celebration of Tom Glendon’s imagination and of the formative
themes and influences which helped to mould him. It is also a major
milestone in his development as a sculptor.
We are fortunate to have artists such as Tom Glendon. But we all
too often take them and their work for granted. Their work enhances
our society; it is a resource that we all benefit from.
“Our craft is the oldest in the world. Our handiwork is
seen everywhere, in town, country and village. The men who have
gone before us have left us a heritage to be proud of; and we
feel our own contribution has been for the good. With hammer,
mallet and chisel we have shaped and Fashioned rough boulders….
we are a little group of Craftsmen…. doing our work as well
as we can….
Every graveyard, every old church, every old building
Reminding us we are not as good as we think. They are
Our models and very exacting they can be….”
Thus Seamus Murphy, in the preface to Stone Mad, his masterly study
of stone cutting in his native Cork, described his fellow craftsmen.
Tom Glendon, as the title of his exhibition, “In My Forefathers
Line”, shows, is one of a rare breed. As we say in the fraternity
of men in stone, he did not pick the trade off the ground: he was
born into it.
Having worked in his father’s stoneyard in Deans Grange, learning
the basic skill of his trade, he went on to serve his apprenticeship
to Michael Biggs, one of the best stonecarvers in the country. Upon
completion of his training, in 1974, he moved to Limerick and Shannon,
where he set up a workshop in inscription, design and carving.
I met him for the first time then and I immediately recognised
that here was no ordinary journeyman stonecutter, but masterly craftsman
who sought perfection in his work and respect for a job well done.
I worked with Tom at that time, and set in position some of the
sculpture and stones that he had cut, carved and lettered.
He returned to Dublin in 1982, and established a workshop at Bray.
His work is to be seen in a wide variety of places in Dublin and
other parts of the country.
Stonecutters survived in our society against a background of social,
cultural, political change and, above all, changes in design and
building materials and technology. The day when stone was the main
material used in the construction of most buildings is long since
gone but, I am pleased to say that trades of stonecutter and stonemason
are still alive and flourishing in Ireland.
There is no reason why architects should not continue to use stone
and sculpture as much as possible in modern buildings. Stone endures
and dignifies, and where is there not a stone bridge that is NOT
in some way attractive?
As well as being a sculptor and stone cutter, Tom Glendon has other
talents. In 1988, he worked with Peter Feeney, the producer, and
Patrick Gallagher, the presenter and scriptwriter, on the hour long
television documentary, “Dublin in Stone”. This film was
a magnificent celebration of Dublin, its stone buildings and monuments
and the men who built them. I fervently wish that Peter Feeney and
Patrick Gallagher will do a similar programme on Cork, Limerick,
Waterford, Galway, Kilkenny and Wexford.
I know how hard Tom Glendon has worked in preparing this exhibition.
He well deserves this success and this tribute from me. It has been
a pleasure and an honour for me to have been invited to open this