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The "Timekeeper" Sundial

Dial at St. Joseph's School.

Early in 2015 under the ‘Per Cent for Art’ scheme, a government initiative whereby 1% of the cost of any publicly funded capital infrastructural and building development, can be allocated to the commissioning of a work of art, Sunny Wieler of StoneArt, Waterford, was commissioned to create a sculpture for St. Joseph’s Secondary School in Drogheda Co. Louth, on completion of a major extension to the school.
The brief was to create “…an outdoor sculptural area in a space that links the old and new section of the school. The idea of the passing of time and linking our past to our future is the main theme for the proposed project…” .
Sunny’s 'Timekeeper’sculpture pays tribute to this ‘passing of time’ through the medium of a stone sundial.
Dial at St. Joseph's School.

From a distance the 1.5m high roughhewn sandstone standing stones set in the 8m diameter circular paved area is reminiscent of a prehistoric Neolithic structure.
The Gnomon.

Close-up the sundial element of the sculpture becomes apparent. The 1.9m high gnomon, the large angled stone shadow caster in the centre of the paved area, is angled parallel to the earth's axis, pointing towards the pole star, and paying tribute to the first angled gnomon sundials invented in the late 1300's.
The jagged shadows from the gnomon’s edge on the dial surface contrast markedly with the precision of the cut and polished limestone hourline bars with their incised Roman numerals. This in turn highlights the difference between the rudimentary time keeping of the prehistoric people and the sophisticated precision of modern engineered clocks.
The relief carvings of cogs and wheels on the standing stones emphasis this contrast. North, East and West ( N, E and W) directions are cut into the back of the tall standing stones with South (S) on the back of the low seat stone.
The seating area.

A separate stone seating area in the courtyard between the old and new buildings is an extension of the sundial sculpture, with a time capsule placed under the stone mosaic in the floor as a symbol of the schools confidence in its future.
The seating area.  
The team who brought this project to fruition included:

Original Artistic Concept of a sundial: Sunny Wieler - visit his website Stone Art at -

Lead Stonemason/Stone Carver : Sunny Wieler who also did the hourline angle  calculations.

Letter Cutter: Alex Panteleyenko

Assistant Stonemason/Letter Cutter: Ken Curran

Additional Artists Assistants: Karl Kennedy and Mark Grogan

St.Joesph’s are indeed fortunate in that not only does this piece of sculptural art fulfil their original brief “..idea of the passing of time and linking our past to our future is the main theme for the proposed project…” but they have in it a wonderful teaching aid that can be used across the curriculum. For the Art Teacher it is obvious, for the Geography Teacher – latitude and longitude – our place in the universe etc., for the Maths Teacher – sun shadows, trigonometry etc., for the History Teacher – prehistory, time measurement through the ages etc. etc. etc.
Astronomy and the mathematics of the universe are all combined in what is arguably the oldest of all scientific instruments – the sundial - and with a piece of card, a pencil and some direction from a Design and Technology teacher, children of all ages can design and make their own simple sundial.

Lat 53° 43'  North    Long 6° 20' West

Irish Grid     O  2762245   310137

If you know the location of a sundial in Ireland (NOT a mass produced DIY Store garden ornament) please email it to me (Click here to email M.J.Harley) - a member of British Sundial Society
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