The Salmon of Knowledge

On 22 March at Integrated College Glengormley, the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’ sculpture by Ross Wilson was unveiled.

March 26, 2024

Events, School News

The unveiling of the ‘Salmon of Knowledge.’


IEF Head of Public Affairs & Advocacy Paul Collins, author & screen writer Niall Leonard, sculptor Ross Wilson and Principal Ricky Massey at Integrated College Glengormley.

This sculpture draws on the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’ legend depicting a leaping salmon on a plinth of Mourne granite. It was generously donated by the Leonard family in memory of their parents Rose and Philip. The siblings and their families gathered at this special event to honour the legacy of their parents.

When discussing a tribute to their beloved parents, ‘Ma and Da L’, the siblings decided that a permanent sculpture reflecting their love of education located in an Integrated school would be a perfect lasting memorial.


Author and screen writer Niall Leonard explained the family’s long-standing support for Integrated Education was the inspiration for the Integrated school setting. Niall explained:

‘Ma and Da would have been huge supporters of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF). They knew how shallow, how superficial, how contrived, were the differences between our communities, and raising a family in Newry in the 1970s they knew where ignorance and hate could lead. They knew how it cramped and crushed aspirations, how it squandered talent and goodwill, how it drove so much youth and potential and ambition out of Northern Ireland. Ma and Da would have loved Integrated Education, and the hope it offers, and loved what Northern Ireland could be, will be, is becoming.’

Integrated College Glengormley were delighted to have been chosen as the location for such a special tribute. Ricky Massey, Principal of the College said:

‘In September 2022 our school completed the Transformation process and officially became Integrated College Glengormley.  As an Integrated school we believe that the future of Northern Ireland lies in children from all backgrounds and cultures being educated together. A belief shared by the Leonard family, and in particular demonstrated by Philip’s support for Integrated Education as far back as attending meetings in Newry in the 1970s.

Today our school community feel truly privileged to be the recipients of the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’. The inscription on the sculpture reads ‘Happy are those who find Wisdom.’ Our school can agree with this sentiment and has truly thrived since becoming Integrated, offering the very best education for all our pupils.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Leonard family for their generosity and support, not only today, but also in their donations which will enable the refurbishment of our Sixth Form and the sports facilities. These projects will make a huge difference for our pupils, on their behalf thank you.

We are truly delighted to have so many of the family with us today for this very special occasion, when we finally unveil the sculpture.’

Paul Collins, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy for the IEF, attended the unveiling. Paul said:

‘As one of Northern Ireland’s leading artists and sculptors, Ross Wilson has created a truly unique sculpture in ‘Salmon of Knowledge’. The IEF are delighted to have been involved in this project, in helping the Leonard family find a fitting location for a permanent memorial to their parents Rose and Philip Leonard. The Leonard family have been friends of IEF for a long time and we want to thank them for their support and commitment to Integrated Education.

Their generosity and support have enabled us to support the growth and the development of Integrated Education over many years.’

Niall’s final words were a tribute to his parents:

‘In other words, it’s not just about gaining knowledge, but finding wisdom. Rose Maguire and Philip Leonard did. They were wise, and they were compassionate, and they were funny,
and we miss them, and we thank them, and here today, we commemorate them.’


Great-grand children of Rose and Philip Leonard with sculptor Ross Wilson.


Niall Leonard with Tim McGarry.