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Speech by Alderman JAMES KEMMY,T.D.

At the opening of one man show at the Solomon Gallery, Dublin, August 1991.

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 exhibition.

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