Stonecutting is one of lreland’s oldest and natural trades. Ruined monastic remains and saintly high crosses are made magnificent by the ornamentation and secular motifs permanently created from natural stone using a chisel and a breathtaking standard of craftsmanship. Stonecutters dress and shape the stone while stonecarvers, stonepolishers and labourers completed the work
Co. Wexford has a tradition of producing quality stoneworkers and one of the oldest families in the trade are the Doyles of Church Road, Bunclody. When Paraic Doyle joined his father Laurence Doyle, over forty years ago, in this long established business, he became the fourth generation to promote the trade. Like all crafts, the passing of time has brought about sweeping changes, and therefore todays stonecutters could best be described as monumental masons. The Doyles have faced up to the challenge of change, yet the individual style prevails, and the customer continues to receive a first class service.
The origins of the Bunclody business has a romantic air to it. Laurence and Patrick Doyle were brothers and stonecutters by trade who rambled from Coolkenno, Co. Wicklow, to Bunclody and married two sisters. In the 1870’s Patrick returned to set up business in Coolkenno while Laurence remained in Bunclody and established the business now owned by his great grandson Paraic Doyle.
This was the era of the journeyman stonecutter, but settling down and working from a permanent base gave obvious advantages. Back in the final quarter of the 19th century the role of the domestic stonecutter was physically demanding. For the most part it required working on churches or private residence preparing the stone on site. Laurence sweated his trade on the churches at Marshalstown and Oulart, and on the beautiful circular window in the Church of Ireland at Gorey, known as St. Catherine’ s wheel. In 1906 his work was done at the early age of 52.
His genius was passed on through his son Patrick Doyle. He learned the skills of stonecutting from his father during a strict seven year apprenticeship.Changes came about in the trade during his time as the demand for headstones and kerbings increased. Laurence Doyle son of Patrick’s had to be a stonecutter, his pedigree suggested that. His mother, formerly Miss Elizabeth Travers was the daughter of a Gorey stonecutter, Myles Travers. Laurence gained experience in Northern Ireland, working for a short time in the Ballymena district.
However he gained most experience from his father, he took over the business after serving his time in 1943. He expanded the business greatly even as far as Manchester where himself and his son erected a fine headstone. He died in 1992 aged 75 years. Paraic Doyle son of Laurence served his apprenticeship with his father and took over in early 80’s.
By virtue of popular demand he expanded the business even further supplying headstones, granite worktops, fireplaces and all stone requirments. The Doyles are keen and successful because they are the experts. The tradition runs deep in their veins, any family business that can sustain a service to the public for over 150 years in such a competitive trade must have a special quality. Paraic maintains a fine record of personal supervision, quality workmanship and attention to detail. Hard work and perseverance has brought him success and long may it continue.