People in Sligo town have grown used to the sight of one of their local butchers carving wood in between serving customers.
If you pass by the Quirke's shop on Wine Street, Sligo you might see the butcher there carving a piece of wood, instead of chopping meat with a cleaver.
Michael Quirke started wood carving a few years ago, and it has become his passion. Anyone can carve wood if they feel so inclined, but having a good eye for shapes and physical strength will give you an advantage. He describes the feeling of being totally absorbed in his art,
At your best, you forget about everything, you don’t know that the time is passing. It’s an interaction between you, your eye, your hand and the wood, and a character starts to build up, quite often not the character you start with.
Creating well known mythical and historical figures like Diarmuid and Gráinne, Diarmuid MacMurrough and Brian Boru from wood, he discovered a receptive audience initially in overseas tourists. Now local people are starting to take an interest too.
Michael Quirke tells reporter Tommie Gorman about his hopes for the next stage of his creative endeavours,
What I would really like to do now would be likenesses, and not just famous people like WB Yeats, which I have done, and Michael Collins and DeValera, and so on...what I’d really like to do would be somebody’s uncle, or a bunch of kids, you know, either in a relief or in a couple of busts.
‘Ireland's Eye’ was a Tuesday-to-Friday series with human-interest stories and features from locations throughout Ireland. First broadcast on 7 October 1980, the programme ran until August 1983.
An ‘Ireland’s Eye’ report broadcast on 17 January 1983. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.