Getting crafty

Irish crafts aren’t just showpieces, in fact, most have been part of daily life for centuries

Our crafts embody our cultural and creative heritage, and they come in many shapes and forms – most having roots in practical daily chores. Just look at our beautiful, hand-weaved willow baskets, Nicholas Mosse platters, Derek Wilson ceramic jugs and Cushendale lambswool blankets.

And for special occasions? Belleek Pottery tea cups, Waterford crystal vases, and Thomas Ferguson’s crisp Irish linen napkins.

Crafts Council of Ireland

Now these guys understand our long-standing legacy of crafts better than most. “Ireland is a small country with a strong craft heritage dating back thousands of years and now a new crop of talented makers is producing amazing work at an international level,” according to Brian McGee, Head of Market Development at the CCOI.

To tell the story of Irish craft and “to connect the idea of a maker’s place with their craft”, they commissioned a film (see above) from Dublin based filmmakers Jamie and Keith. In it we see some of Ireland’s finest craftspeople – woodworkers, weavers, basket makers, potters and glass blowers – working their magic in their studios.

Jonathan Legge, from Makers & Brothers, who also commissioned the video said: "Ireland is what makes the work unique, the heritage, the landscape, the weather, this and more has all had a massive influence on the work of good Irish design and craft. It is what gives it its depth and makes it standout.”

Living design

Many local crafts people are more than delighted to welcome visitors into their studios, and Kilkenny’s National Craft Gallery is an industrious place to start. Poke your way around intricate hand-blown glassware, stunning lampshades and hand-carved wooden bowls in the confines of these former stables – all displayed by their proud creators.

Or drop in on twin sisters Karen and Claire creating ceramic confections at Red Earth Designs in Belfast. Not forgetting The Craft Granary, County Tipperary, which lends its walls and floors to local artists and sculptors from across the county known as the Golden Vale.

And even if you don’t have a spare suitcase rolled in bubble wrap to carry them home, just ask for it to be couriered to your doorstep (it may even get there before you!).