Photo by Sunny Wieler
Among other special guests and diplomats attending the festival on Amherst Island last weekend was celebrated Canadian author Jane Urquhart. She spoke wonderful words of encouragement to the people of Amherst who had come out to this special dry stone event in great numbers. She read a moving passage from the last chapter of her novel The Stone Carvers. It was one of the most powerful moments of the Irish Canadian Festival.
'And so the impossible happens as a result of whims that turn into obsessions. A priest is struck with light in an unexpected valley, a king requires rainbow machines, on the one hand, and a belief in the magic of distant landscapes, on the other. A Canadian man dreams the stone that will be assembled and carved to expiate the sorrow of one country on the soil of another. The men in the counting houses of government rage against the expense, preferring to hoard their coins for the machinery of war. And still the beautiful stone walls rise in barely accessible, elevated places. Heart breaking operas are written and performed in various private and public rooms. Mass is celebrated. And the windows and statues and towers are maintained longer than you might think, in the face of autumn's bitter winds and winters frantic storms. If you stand in certain parts of the valley you can see them shine. A clear flash of silver or alabaster in daytime, lit by a rich inner fire, or reflected moonlight at night, they disperse light and strength and consolation long after the noise of the battle has ended, and all of the warriors have gone home.'