Date Published: 23-Jun-2011
It might seem like madness to be setting up a craft business in the middle of a recession, but Caimin Coyne has faith that his handmade furniture will find an audience.
Caimin, from Inishbofin and now living in Roscahill near Oughterard, learned his skills the old-fashioned way, from his father and his grandfather on Inishbofin. Both were boat builders and carpenters and it was through them that he first explored his talent for woodwork.
Now, he makes quality furniture that ranges from colourful slated bird houses and feeders, to hall tables, three-legged milking stools, children’s stools and súgán chairs and stools.
While many of the pieces Caimin makes are modern, the influence of tradition is obvious – for instance his súgán chairs were inspired by the chairs his parents received as a wedding present 41 years ago.
“I wanted to make a refined version, more sleek than traditional,” he says as he turns one of his creations over to show the detail in the work.
He has added his own element to the chairs by putting the rope on the back as well as on the seat, which isn’t usual. They are sleek, but also sturdy and comfortable, he explains, because he wants to create furniture that is pleasing and practical.
“If you can’t make a chair better then don’t make one at all. Function is vital. It has to be strong and it has to look well – something that is comfortable and that you don’t see every day.”
He also makes a variation on the súgán chairs, which he has called the Rusheen Chair for his Bofin home. Instead of rope, the seat and back are made from heavy cotton, with a range of colours and fabrics available on request.
Caimin’s route to artisan furniture making was an indirect one. After school he trained as an aircraft mechanic, qualifying in 1998. It was a job that took him all over the world and one that he loved, but it didn’t give him much outlet for his creativity. Then, after the attacks on America in September 2001, the bottom fell out of the airline industry, while Ireland’s construction industry was in lift off.
Caimin began to reassess his career and adopted a flexible approach to his work. When he got a contract for aircraft maintenance, he took it and went off travelling. When he didn’t, he focused on carpentry and building around Galway.
He built an apartment in town for a client, roofing it and
doing the internal fittings and staircase. He also created a beautiful spiral staircase which is now part of his signature work, he explains.
In late 2007 he saw the warning signs in the building industry. It was an area he had fallen into by accident and he felt it was time to focus on his dream of making his own bespoke furniture.
“I wanted to work from home and be able to work whatever the weather. And I didn’t want to spend hours driving around the city getting to and from work.”
Ideas for his pieces come to him at various times. “It might be before I go to sleep and if it’s a really good one I get up and put it on paper.”
Sometimes he’ll think of something when he’s driving west towards Cleggan for the boat journey home. He reckons it’s to do with the space he enters in his head, he explains.
Sometimes, too, people offer good advice.
For instance, a hall table made of ash and partially painted in muted pastels, with a cheery glass drawer knob, came about after a conversation with the owner of Whistlestop craft shop in Clifden.
The owner explained that customers were looking for narrow tables as halls in new houses were narrower than in older builds.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Judge adjourns Connemara assault case
Date Published: 08-May-2013
A date will be set next October for the trial of a 52-year old Connemara man, who is charged with assaulting traditional Irish musician Noel Hill five years ago.
Michael Folan from Teach Mór, Lettermullen, is charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Noel Hill at Tí Padraig Mairtín Beag in Leitir Mór, on St Stephen’s Day, 2008.
The matter had been listed for trial on several occasions before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in the intervening period.
It was referred to the High Court in Dublin last year for judicial review after Michael Folan said he wanted his trial heard ‘as Gaeilge’and that a bi-lingual jury be made available to hear the case.
At Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned the case for mention to October when it’s expected a date will be set for trial.
Bank of Ireland Galway Shopping Centre branch to close
Date Published: 10-May-2013
Bank of Ireland’s branch at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road is to close in July.
The branch is to merge into the BOI outlet at Galway Industrial Estate in Mervue.
Galway Bay fm news reports the 14 staff impacted are to be offered redeployment and there will be no job losses.
Galway RNLI rescues three people stranded on Hare Island
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway RNLI Lifeboat has come to the rescue of three students who got stranded on Hare Island after getting caught in the tide off Ballyloughan Beach.
The two girls and boy, in their late teens had gone for a walk and were spotted waving from the island by a local resident who contacted the emergency Services and Galway Lifeboat.
Conditions at the time (4pm) were very changeable with heavy showers.
Three members of the Lifeboat shore crew were working in the vicinity of the station at the time and launched the boat in six minutes.
The three students were picked up safely and brought back to the Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks where they were warmed up and given tea and did not require medical attention.