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  • Living

The ancient art of the mason lives on all around us

Wednesday, 6th May, 2020 10:05am

Story by Tony Galvin
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The ancient art of the mason lives on all around us

ROSS Errilly near Headford "looks as though the masons had just left and the carpenters were about to move in". Photos: Tony Galvin

The ancient art of the mason lives on all around us

ROSS Errilly near Headford "looks as though the masons had just left and the carpenters were about to move in". Photos: Tony Galvin

 I’M not a great believer in the adage: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. I feel familiarity simply engenders unquestioning acceptance. A case in point is the abundance of architectural or built heritage we are surrounded by, the everyday beauty that we have inherited from our forefathers and, in this instance, from the skilled masons who created these masterpieces.

This legacy was brought into focus as I read through: The Stonemason – A History of building Britain by Andrew Ziminski, which is a fascinating tour of stone masonry from Stonehenge on into the Roman period, the great medieval castle- and cathedral-building boom and on to modern restoration projects.

But what is equally, if not more fascinating, is that the author is a working stone mason, not an academic. This multi-talented individual not only walks the walk with hammer and chisel but can talk the talk with outstanding clarity and erudition.
“Working people don’t tend to write books, do they? They certainly don’t write history books, and that’s something that motivated me to record my impressions and offer another perspective on how people have managed materials to create some extraordinary structures,” the author said in a recent interview with the BBC History Magazine.
The breadth of this highly skilled man’s knowledge is truly impressive and I use that term advisedly. He skips easily from archaeology to geology, history to restoration techniques, geography to wildlife and, in the process, incorporates all these aspects seamlessly into his narrative.
Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald

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