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Unique craft village a hive of creativity and energy

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 21-Apr-2011

New blood. It brings new energy – and that new energy is apparent in Spiddal Craft and Design Studios, better known as the Ceardlann, which this year marks its 27th anniversary with a free family festival from Tuesday, April 26 to Sunday, May 1.

Féile na Ceardlainne, a celebration of art, craft, music and dance, will take place throughout the attractive craft village, located on the Galway side of Spiddal with picture postcard views across to the Burren.

On a sunny Saturday, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be, says potter and ceramic artist Rob D’eath of Sliding Rock Contemporary Ceramics who has been there from the beginning, 27 years ago.

The concept of a crafts centre in Spiddal was first mooted in the 1980s by Spanish sculptor and art-gallery director Jesus Modia, who lived in Connemara. He had established an art gallery in Spiddal and felt that a craft village would be a valuable local asset. Údáras na Gaeltachta agreed and came on board to create the first such venture in Ireland.

Jesus Modia died shortly after it was established, and today the Ceardlann stands as a legacy to his memory, with nine crafts workers making and selling their work on site. There’s also a restaurant, Builín Blasta, which attracts diners from far and near for the quality of its food.

Over the years, the ‘Crafts Centre’, as it is known locally, has been home to a wide range of talented people. As well as Rob D’eath, weaver Máire Ní Thaidhg and Gearóid Murphy of An Spailpín Fánach, which supplies crafts items relating to the Irish language, have been there since the beginning.

The three original members are delighted to welcome the two most recent members of the craft community, Brazilian artist Andrea Rossi whose colourful contemporary paintings explore different aspects of Irish life, and Dublin-born stained glass artist Sue Donnellan. Both the newcomers now live locally, as do all the artists based in the centre.

Andrea’s and Sue’s new blood has brought fresh energy and that has been vital in organising Féile na Ceardlainne, says artist Geraldine O’Rourke, who has been in the Ceardlann for 10 years and in business for two decades.

Geraldine works in mixed media, including hand designed paper, and porcelain to create pieces that draw on Ireland’s mythology and rich aquatic culture.

An Siopa Buí is a more recent addition to the Craft and Design Studio, with a ceramic café where people can take part in a range of activities from painting their own pottery to making greeting cards. Children are welcome and an Siopa Buí has proven to be a popular venue for children’s parties.

Nearby, Celtic Coin jewellery produces work using the designs of the first coins of the Irish Free State. Their range includes brooches, cufflinks, silver necklaces, earrings and golf ball markers.

Cloon Keen Ateliers, meanwhile, is a family run business, making candles from top quality ingredients as well stocking as a range of body, bath and home accessories.

There have been many changes at the Ceardlann over the years, with various people coming and going, including the well-known musician Rick Epping who ran an accordion making studio in the centre. The current line up of nine artists and top class chef Jaime Peake in Builín Blasta sees the Ceardlann in a very strong position, says Geraldine O’Rourke.

And because 2011 has been designated Ireland’s Year of Craft by the Crafts Council of Ireland, it seemed an ideal opportunity to celebrate the achievement of the Spiddal Craft and Design Studio, she explains, adding that Féile na Ceardlainne is “evolving itself nicely”.

“It’s good to reinvent ourselves,” she continues. That’s particularly true in light of the country’s economic woes, when craft workers, like many other small businesses are facing serious challenges.

“These are tough times, but there are positives,” Ger feels. “People are getting together and trying to solve problems and that wouldn’t have happened in the boom times.”

That is being done partly through Conamara Network, a group organised by local businessman Enda Folan. The Ceardlann workers are members of that and it has been invaluable in helping them to exchange information with other people in business throughout Connemara, and make new contacts.

Potter Rob D’eath of Sliding Rock Ceramics adds that being small has its advantages in the current climate.

“It’s easier because these are only one or two-people businesses,” he says, adding that of the craft workers are in the Ceardlann seven days a week.

Rob also works as a lecturer in the Fine Art Department of GMIT, which has been a great cushion. In addition, he also holds exhibitions of leading artists on a regular basis in his Spiddal workshop.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Appeal for information following Portumna crash

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 08-May-2013

Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.

The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.

Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.

Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.

He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060

 

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 10-May-2013

GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.

It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.

The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.

The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.

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