Documentary On Newstalk: Stone Mad

We take a journey around Ireland, to discover what drives people mad… for dry stone walls.

"Stone Mad" brings us from Donegal to Dingle where dry stone wall enthusiasts share their passion about this craft.

Presenter Tristan Rosenstock journeys from Donegal to Dingle learning skills from stone wall makers young and old to get an insight into this rich aspect of our built, vernacular heritage. Walls are usually seen as divisive obstacles, things that separate people. Here in Ireland, however, building a dry stone wall was an activity that brought a community together. It was a unifying occasion where a meitheal was summoned to lend a hand ensuring the land could be farmed. Stone Mad brings us down the western seaboard where we encounter people who are passionate about making dry stone walls, as well as artists who draw inspiration from them.

Stone Mad celebrates a unique aspect of our rural and vernacular built heritage and introduces listeners to master stone wall builders who are passing on aspects of this traditional craft.  We also meet with artists who have been inspired by dry stone walls, from an encounter with Leo Moran of The Saw Doctors on the side of the N17, to mosaic artist Barbara Derrane on the Aran islands. Along his journey, Tristan ultimately finds a cultural activity that leads to a healthy mind, body, and spirit in the company of people who are self-proclaimed stone mad.

Quotes from Stone Mad:

"It’s so good for me. It makes me feel so refreshed in the evening"- Pádraig Póil (70), master dry stone wall builder on InisOírr, Aran Islands.

"When we play N17 around the world you can see how dry stone walls can mean something different to the Irish people in the audience – they’re an image of home, or maybe you had your first kiss behind a dry stone wall."-Leo Moran, The Saw Doctors

"More and more women are getting into it because there are always plenty of eligible bachelors at a dry stone wall festival ” Louise Price, The TírChonaill  Stone Festival

‘Stone Mad ’ will air on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday May 13th at 7am, Repeated Sunday May 14th at 6pm.

 About Stone Mad:

  • The programme was recorded on location in Donegal town, Tuam, The Aran islands – InisOírr&InisMór, Dingle.
  • Dry stone wall building is experiencing a huge resurgence and festivals devoted to this aspect of our heritage draw enormous crowds in the Aran islands and in Donegal Town (TírChonaill Stone Festival)
  • Dry stone walls have been a feature of the Irish landscape for over 5,000 years and today a new generation is eager to maintain the thousands of kilometres of dry stone walls that can be found here.

LISTEN LIVE: ‘Stone Mad’ can be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available at: after the broadcast.

CREDITS: The programme is presented by Tristan Rosenstock. Producer – Donal Donovan

Stone Mad is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's Sound & Vision II Scheme