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Giant instrument in Errew

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the musical sculpture, ‘Monk and the Candles’, by local artist Cathal McCarthy
GLORIOUS SUNSHINE Fr Hilary Steblecki, OFM Galway, blesses the musical sculpture, ‘Monk and the Candles’, by local artist Cathal McCarthy at Errew National School, Castlebar. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Giant-sized musical instrument for Errew National School pupils

Michael Duffy

‘A RECREATIONAL, aesthetic and educational asset’ was officially unveiled in Errew National School last Thursday, in the form of a unique new musically interactive sculpture.
The new sculpture, created by renowned Ballintubber-born sculptor Cathal McCarthy and entitled ‘Monk with Candles’, consists of 14 big chimes arranged in a semi-circle and a large xylophone, all of which are tuned to individual notes in concert pitch and can be played by the students as a giant-sized musical instrument.
Mr Pat Kilcoyne, chairman of the Board of Management of Errew National School, performed the opening ceremony. He paid tribute to the teachers in Errew and in particular its principal, Mr PJ Quinn, for his visionary approach in commissioning Mr McCarthy to create such an outstanding and innovative sculpture.
Fr Hilary Steblecki, OFM at Galway Abbey, and Fr Fergal Cunnane, Errew School Chaplain, along with several Mayo County Council officials, other local school principals, local councillors, teachers and parents of the students also attended the launch.
Fr Steblecki and Fr Cunnane performed the official blessing, which was followed by a short play by the students. This performance reflected the Franciscan heritage of the school. It was they who first established a school in the Monastery at Errew in 1839.
The students then performed a number of songs including a rousing version of The Saw Doctors’ ‘The Green and Red of Mayo’. Mr Redmond Connolly, Music Resource Specialist from the Department of Education, directed the performance.
School principal Mr Quinn said everyone involved with the project was delighted with the new interactive sculpture.
“The structure is visually very impressive and it is also a beautiful instrument to play and make music with. It introduces the students to the fundamentals of music in a tangible way. They love playing it out on the hill and the lovely mellow sounds ring out in the air. It is a recreational, aesthetic and educational asset to the school,” said Mr Quinn, who added that the sculpture, which is a first for Mayo and the largest of its kind in Ireland, will be of great benefit in furthering the students’ musical education.
Mr McCarthy, who hit national headlines after a piece he designed in Ballindine called ‘The Player’, caused controversy in 2003, said he was delighted to be able to design a piece in Errew that uniquely celebrates the local link with Errew monastery.