Cardinal Daly's Tomb
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ON THE SITE at Armagh Cathedral there are memorials to Cardinals Dalton, Conway and O’Fiach, each of which has its own individual design; how did you arrive at your concept for Cardinal Daly’s stone?
Cardinal Daly left concise instructions in writing regarding the wording for his inscription. It was rather long because it encompassed many aspects of his life in service and dedication to the church, and a quotation taken from the Acts. When designing an inscription one must be conscious that it does not become too “wordly”. A big panel of lettering is off putting to the eye, unlike calligraphy and the printed word, so it is important to devise a structure of wording that invites a pause to read and is pleasing to the eye. Wordcraft is probably the best way to describe my guideline in arriving at a satisfactory module of lettering. By this method, each statement precedes and succeeds in progression.
HOW DID YOU overcome that problem?
I devised a scheme whereby I used a number of panels which are raised on a large block of stone by cutting away the background, on each of which is carved a relative body of information and at the same time relate in sequence to each other. By adjusting the letter size on each panel that in turn allowed a variation in size, whilst reading as an overall unit. The panels in turn are joined together by a spine of stone one carved pattern to the next.
THERE ARE FIVE panels in all,why that number?
Insofar as the number five is a very symbolic number to man, for example, all edible fruits and vegetables are five petaled, a most helpful guideline to early man colonizing new lands. In this case it is the sequence of memorial elements that add up to five. First there is the panel carved with the Cardinal’s Coat of Arms, that is followed by his name and appointment to Armagh, which in turn is followed by his date of birth and death with that lovely encompassing line “returned to the Father” which reflects his path in life, and lastly there is the small end panel with the Archbishopric cross carved on it. The large scale of the stone had the latitude to allow the application of this approach, giving a satisfactory design, pleasing to the eye.
DO YOU SEE any other symbolism in the work?
Now that the monument is set in place, I feel it sits comfortably in the location. It echoes one of those giant glacial erratics that one occasionally sees in the landscape.
Also, another aspect is the treatment and gradation of panel sizes, when they are looked at linearally from head to foot of the ledger stone the rhythm of widening and narrowing suggests a recumbent figure lying at peace, as is found on medieval tombstones. Just a note on a personal predilection. I am disinclined to lay a stone flat onto earth, to me it suggests the victory of gravity, drawing energy into the ground. To overcome that issue I used two plinths to slightly elevate the memorial above the grave to remind one of resurrection and hereafter.
WHY DID YOU choose to use limestone as the material for the monument?
The existing monuments are made of limestone and there did not appear to be any rationale in choosing a different stone. Limestone is a native material with excellent carving qualities, its hardness makes it very weather resistant and not liable to erosion as the more porous stone Portland or sandstone are. Granite, though a lovely lively stone with lots of character would not have suited this specific work due to the amount of carving and lettering involved. The stone is a pale carboniferous limestone sourced in County Carlow, masoned to shape with a hand sanded finish and in finished condition weighs over a ton.; the lettering is carved by hand. The alphabet model is based on the modern Albertus and Optima typefaces, which are in essence sans-serif Roman capitals.