I was in Ireland for the first time in my life this summer, and it was an amazing trip. I found Ireland to be peaceful and laid back, beautiful with a quiet northern beauty, and full of fascinating places and landscapes to discover.
There was one big disappointment that made me really sad. Finding traditional Irish crafts proved to be elusive. Many of the stores listed in our guidebook went out of business, likely because of the economy. But I was on a mission, and so I found a few truly unique things. I want to share the work of these amazing artisans with you.
Kinsale Celtic Silver Workshop
On a gray, chilly, and rainy day in Kinsale, County Cork, and after a brief stroll around town, we were on a lookout for crafts. We stumbled on Kinsale Celtic Silver Workshop on Pearse Street, a tiny shop where Dominic Dolan creates his one-of-a-kind sterling silver jewelry by hand, using traditional tools. The Dolan family keeps up the silversmithing tradition of their ancestors. It was fascinating to watch Dominic at work; and I love wearing the two pieces I bought — a Newgrange pattern pendant and a Celtic knot ring. People comment on them (and Dominic's workmanship) all the time. His jewelry is truly exceptional!
Visit Dominic's website at: www.kinsalesilver.com
Louis Mulcahy Pottery Workshop and Showroom
Louis Mulcahy doesn't really need an introduction in Ireland; he has a store in Dingle, County Kerry, and was profiled in the media. I visited Louis' workshop outside of Dingle, on a breathtaking coastline with steep black cliffs and endless waves. Louis works in stoneware and porcelain; I especially liked his navy blue and russet glazes.
Take a look at his work at: www.louismulcahy.com.
Lisbeth Mulcahy The Weavers Shop
Lisbeth Mulcahy (wife of Loius Mulcahy, above) is one of Ireland's best known designer weavers. Originally from Denmark, Lisbeth opened her workshop and store in Dingle, County Kerry, in 1986. I went to her store in Dingle, and if I could I would have bought as many of her scarves as I could carry ;-) They are made from natural fibers, like alpaca, merino wool, and linen, and the colors range from muted to vibrant. I chose the Alpaca Waves scarf in lavender and gray; it's soft and pretty. I think Lisbeth's designs shows strong Scandinavian influences, but the workmanship is impeccable.
Lisbeth Mulcahy's website is: www.lisbethmulcahy.com.
Terry Dear Celtic Leathercrafts
Terry Dear lives in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, Great Britain. He works with vegetable tanned leather and uses traditional leather tooling tools. His hand-tooled and hand-polished belts are superb; the pictures don't do them enough justice. Terry's belts are not straight-sided, but gently curved — which makes perfect sense to me! This is how the belts were probably made in the Middle Ages ;-) I bought Terry's bridle leather belt; it's absolutely the best belt I've ever owned. I just love the beautiful, smooth, lustrous leather and the heavy, highly pilished traditional brass buckle, and wear it all the time.
Take a look at Terry's website at: www.celticleather.co.uk.