Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Three tree stumps come to life
as three sculptures in Tarbert

‘The Spirit of Night’ carved into a tree stump in the Forge Park in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

While I was in Tarbert, Co Kerry, yesterday [15 August 2017] for the annual memorial service for the Shannon Boating Tragedy in 1893, I took time to visit the Forge Park beside the river walk.

The park includes three sculptures by the West Limerick wood sculptor Will Fogarty. In 2014, Tarbert Development Association commissioned him to work on the tall stumps of three trees that had to be shortened after the storms of the New Year in 2014.

Will Fogarty cut two faces from fables into two of the stumps and the Salmon of Knowledge from the Fianna myth into the third stump.

The two faces are of wood spirits; one is ‘The Spirit of Night,’ asleep with a wise owl by his beard; the second face, ‘The Spirit of Dawn,’ is awake to represent the dawning of the day, and has fish jumping out of his beard.

A third image, ‘The Salmon of Knowledge,’ marks Tarbert’s connection with salmon fishing in the River Shannon and also celebrates the local centre of knowledge at Tarbert Comprehensive School.

‘The Spirit of Dawn’ carved into a tree stump in the Forge Park in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Will also fashioned a number of seats from the tops of the trees he felled, and these make for a perfect spot to stop at in the Forge Park these days and to enjoy the summer sunshine.

Will Fogarty also calls himself Fear na Coillte in reference both to the wood spirits in his work and to myself. He lives in the foothills of the Ballyhouras in Co Limerick, surrounded by mountains and forests, and spends time walking in them with Wag, his Labrador.

‘The Salmon of Knowledge,’ a third image carved by Will Fogarty in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

He began carving some years ago with walking sticks and staffs, made from hazel he collected in those forests. He still makes them on commission, but evolved into chainsaw carving and found his passion.

Most of his work is on a commission basis following briefs from clients. A large part of his work is done on stumps that are left behind when a tree is felled. All his work is in wood that has been felled by nature or has been cut down in a way that is sustainable.

The carved trees in the Forge Park in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

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