The Irish Craft & Design Blog

  • The 1916 Rising, read the Proclamation here

    The Proclamation, so have you read it? Here is the text in full

    IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

    Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

    We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and its exaltation among the nations.

    The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

    Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

    We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

    END, signed by the Seven Signatories.

    This is the document that was signed to proclaim Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1916. The proclamation was signed by seven signatories, more of which you can find out about in our next blog.

    There are a number of copies of the proclamation on display around Dublin, including the General Post Office (GPO), Trinity College and the National Museum of Ireland. Annually, on Easter Sunday, the content of the proclamation is read aloud outside the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell street.

  • Fill Your Life with Colour

    Fill your life with colour!

    Not just beautiful, colours are good for you, too. Find out which ones, and why:

    Most of us enjoy lots of colours, and we often have favourites. We fill our homes with certain colours, choose clothes, bags, or nail polish in colours we like, and enjoy quizzes that tell us what our favourite colour says about us.

    Children are often very responsive to colour, and colour is well worth thinking about deeply when decorating a child’s room. Colours in general encourage us to become more creative by stimulating different areas of our brains and emotions; children’s toys are often quite colourful to tap into these expressions of creativity.

    A giant Luminarium has popped up at the Castle here in Kilkenny during August’s Arts Festival in both 2013 & 2014. You can go into it and be immersed in different colours- it’s loved by both children and adults! There’s no better place to enjoy and experience how colour can elicit joy, playfulness, calm and tranquility.

    Ireland’s National Craft Gallery is just across the street from the Castle, and displays some of Ireland’s finest work of glass, pottery, jewellery and so on. Craft is a wonderful way to bring specific colour benefits into your home without overwhelming yourself—the Luminarium is amazing & beautiful, but humans often can’t tolerate such colour intensity all the time! Read on to find out what specific colours can evoke in adults and children, and why intensity and shade matters so much.

    Red: Red stimulates the senses and raises blood pressure; it provides a lift and a buzz for get-up-and-go. It can be a great colour in the kitchen or in the crockery you use in the morning to help wake you up & motivate you. Yet too may over-stimulate, and shouldn’t generally be used in large amounts in children’s bedrooms. People in Vegas actually gamble more when plenty of red is around!

    Orange: Orange is a colour of enthusiasm. It can have physical effects by increasing oxygen to the brain and stimulating brain activity. Orange is often very positive for kids as it can help boost confidence and independence. It is a happy colour and can encourage social interaction in both children and adults. It is a good colour to have around in a dining room or on dishware as orange also can encourage the appetite, versus blue or purple which can depress the appetite and social chatter.

    Yellow: Yellow is a cheerful colour, and is said to help stimulate concentration & learning, but too much bright yellow may create feelings of agitation or perhaps even anger. Yellow is an uplifting accent colour, but many people become uneasy after a while in a very yellow room. Use as an accent colour instead.

    Green:  Green is a very balanced colour, and is generally neither too stimulating nor too calming/depressing. Green is useful most anywhere in the home. It is quite restful for your eyes as well, and it is very helpful to have green in the area where you or your children are working on the computer or using other electronic screen devices (if you can get them to look up from them!)

    Blue: Blue often brings feeling of calm, harmony, and stability; it can help ease anxiety and aggression. Physically, blue has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rates. A bedroom with plenty of blue and green can help to soothe children who are prone to stress or tantrums.

    Purple: Purple can be quite an emotive colour, which becomes even more calming the more blue it contains. Redder purples are a bit more stimulating, and both are said to enhance the creativity of our quiet, yet actively day-dreamy mind. Purple can be another good colour for a child’s bedroom, but attention needs to be paid that the shade used isn’t too dark or gloomy overall.

    Red, yellow and orange are usually considered exciting colours, while blue, green and purples are calming. But the hue and intensity of a colour’s shade can alter how we respond to it. Soft sky blue can cause us to relax, yet a zingy turquoise is more exciting.

    You can also see this at work with red; pink is red that has had white added to it, although we don’t often think of pink as being a shade of red. Pink can have a calming feel—and this goes for the responses of both males and females. Yet the very bright vibrant pinks are more invigorating, and we see more and more sports teams picking up on this.

    It is fun to play around with colour, and to add and change colour accents in our home. When you know a few of these colour psychology basics, you can help boost positive effects in different areas by colour use. And of course exposing children to a wide array of colour in their toys and clothing helps to stimulate creativity. Colour is beneficial & enjoyable for all ages, and at Ireland’s Showcase we’ve lots of colourful children’s items, as well a colourful crafts for you to add to your home. Enjoy your colourful life!

  • It's Summertime

    It’s Summertime!

    Here in Ireland that means getting outdoors at the slightest bit of sunshine and revelling in it as best we can. We’re no longer commenting so much on the ‘‘Grand stretch in the evening,’’ now we’re remarking: “ There’s real heat in that sun” when it breaks through the clouds.

    Enjoying The Outside

    You’ll find that people are out along the rivers and seaside, even frolicking in the not so warm water. When there is a heatwave like in 2013, that’s not a problem, but even in cooler summers the fresh air calls, and Irish folk are sure to answer! Being outdoors is a priority, and back garden barbeques are often fired up in even less than ideal conditions. We are determined to enjoy the summer!

    Thanks, Guys!

    Credit must be given to the men (as it is mainly them,) who determinedly grill tasty eats for us in the rain as well as in the sun, never giving up when a downpour means they get soaked as everyone else runs to keep dry in the house!

    As a little thank-you treat for those men who have bbq’ed for you in the past; fathers, other halves, sons, friends & more, here’s a recipe of an extra-tasty variation of the classic burger. They, & you, might like to try it on the next sunny, or even not-so-sunny day! And, if the man you’d like to thank is vegetarian, have a look at our category of items for His Birthday/Gifts For Him (LINK). Amongst other items, there are several types of Irish caps that can help keep his head dry as he BBQs veggie burgers & corn on the cob in the rain :-)

    Special Burger Mix

    Makes 4-6 burgers

    Irish grass fed beef is second to none, and the same is true for Irish pork. If you can, try to get these as Irish products.

    Lean beef mince, 500g

    2 pork gigots

    2 streaky rashers (bacon)

    Have your butcher mince the gigots & rashers together. The butcher may also then mix the pork mince & beef together for you if you ask. If you can’t get the separate pork ingredients, you can use 500g plain pork mince.

    At home put all minced ingredients in a bowl and mix together well if not already mixed by butcher.

    Make 4-6 tennis ball sized lumps, depending on how large you like your burger. Place 4 inches (10cm) apart on sheet of cling film, and cover with another sheet. Press down on this with a small plate until the balls are ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick.

    Remove the patties and cook them on the BBQ for approximately 4 minutes. Then turn them over and add your favourite cheese onto them, cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

    Serve in a traditional Waterford Blaa for extra Irish goodness!

    Enjoy with your favourite condiments.

    An Irish Cocktail for the Men

    Cocktails and summer seem to go together, but not so many seem to appeal to the men. This very special Irish one may tempt some of the guys away from their Guinness, for a special treat. It’s an Irish Breakfast Cocktail! Yes, really! It takes a little prep, but give it a go:

    Irish Breakfast Cocktail

    3 pieces of pancetta

    Irish whiskey --Jameson is a classic and perfect for this recipe

    Maple syrup

    Egg white

    Lemon

    Pre prep: Take the pancetta & pan fry. (Be sure to remove excess grease from the meat with a paper towel once cooked.) When cool, put the pancetta into a container with 500mls of the whiskey, soaking in the fridge for 2 days. Then remove & strain off the gathered fat—use a fine tea cloth or coffee filter.

    To make:

    Into a cocktail mixer add:

    A few ice cubes

    1 ½ shots of your pancetta Jameson whiskey

    ½ shot maple syrup

    ½ shot lemon juice

    Shake well, then pour the liquid mixture through a fine strainer into a chilled glass

    Garnish with a bit of cooked pancetta or a lemon twist

    Meat and eggs! What man wouldn’t love it? Well, besides the vegetarian ones... maybe treat them to the Jameson t-shirt instead; it’ll to go with their cap! I bet the carnivores will like one of those t-shirts too.

    To see more Irish themed clothing (and some Irish summers those hoodies don’t go amiss!) see our selection.

    Enjoy the Summer!

    Have a look at the Sea Breeze pottery range for summer, click this link

  • Irish Craft and Countryside - a Magical Match!

    Most people who have been in Ireland speak of the land as being uniquely special, that somehow it is quite potent in its effect on a person. Does the beautiful Irish countryside help encourage a sense of nature’s enchantment and richness? Does it boost creativity, and of the joys of making and sharing creations with others?

    It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to find that, yes, there may be something in the Irish landscape nurturing and inspiring Ireland’s crafts people. In Kilkenny, for example, within a fairly small radius, several enchanting crafts are being made.

    Jerpoint Glass

    Watching glassblowing is mesmerizing. There is something both magical and soothing in the transition of hard particles into flowing, glowing material and then back into a hard static form. Add in the roaring furnace and humming fans, and the experience becomes a hypnotic combination of craft-work music and the dance of maker and materials.

    Ancient Art

    Glass has been blown for over 2000 years, and has developed into an intricate and highly skilled fine craft. The true glass-magic masters like to bring something of their own individuality and their local area alchemy into the mix, which makes their finely crafted pieces coveted and special. Jerpoint Glass, located in the flowing, rolling green countryside of county Kilkenny, Ireland, does just that.

    Family Crafted

    For over 35 years the Leadbetter family have been blowing and designing glass at Jerpoint near the rippling river Nore, and in that time they’ve created items which have been sold all across the world. They’re famous for the beautiful colour patterns in their glass, which is made to Jerpoint’s own secret recipe. These colours are created with the addition of special elements such as iron or copper to produce the green and blue shades which echo the peaceful Kilkenny countryside. A bit of gold is used to develop the pinks and reds illustrative of Kilkenny’s often stunning sunrises.  

    The Glassblower’s Dog

    You can visit the Jerpoint glassblowing studio and watch them at work 10am-4pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and 10am-1pm on Fridays. You’ll also likely be greeted by their rescue dog Milo, who has his own Twitter account at @GlassblowersDog! Milo doesn’t blow glass himself (yet!) but he’s very keen to show you around, and he loves watching the glass being blown, too.

    Milo’s keen to share a few fun facts about glassblowing at Jerpoint, so we thought we’d pass some on to you:

    The furnace in Jerpoint glass runs at 1200 degrees Celsius. That’s hotter than some lava! And if the furnace were to cool down, it would become filled with a giant block of glass, so it has to run all the time, every day, all year long.

    Did you know a single wine glass takes 2 craftsmen 8 minutes to create in a full 24 hour process from creation to completion?

    And at Jerpoint they create about 26 meters of glass every day!

    Milo says that at that rate, it wouldn’t take too long for the glass to flow down the road to where another special craft item is being handmade with passion and care: Moth To A Flame candles.

    Moth to A Flame

    Candle making is another ancient craft that feels quite magical, bringing light to the darkness. Unfortunately, most candle making in modern times has become quite synthetic, completely mechanized and uses cheap ingredients which may aggravate allergies or breathing issues. Larry Kinsella decided to buck this trend, and he creates beautiful, unique candles in his workshop along the river Nore in county Kilkenny.

    Local Beauty

    The beautiful pebble candles Larry makes are another example of a master craftsman imbuing his products with the uniqueness of the local place in which they are created. The pure soft shades and striations of grey in the pebbles are very like those in the stones you’ll find in the Nore as she flows behind the workshop. Their colours also echo the greys and blacks of Kilkenny marble- the fine quality of which give Kilkenny its historical nickname of the Marble City.

    Passionate

    Spend a few minutes chatting to Larry as he creates his candles, and you will see how passionate he is about quality and ethically sourcing the candle ingredients. He’s been creating Moth to a Flame candles since 1999, and without a doubt his love for them is still burning brightly. It’s wonderful to find people on fire for what they do, and who want to make the best possible product for us to enjoy ourselves.

    Special

    Larry hasn’t got a Candlemaker’s Dog on site, but he is located near to where Anemone the lamb lives. {LINK in to the Anemone Post} And when Anemone grows up, she’ll start sending some of her soft, special wool to Cushendale Traditional Woollen Mill, {LINK to monk/Cushendale post} where the monks started weaving 800 years ago. There is an abundance of interconnection, ancient ties, and local community in Irish craft, even now in the 21st century. Even beyond the beauty of Irish craft, perhaps these invisible ingredients are what make them so very special.

    Ireland’s Showcase is a cornucopia of Irish crafted products, and we’ve lovely items by the makers mentioned in this post, here: a collection of great Irish gifts all handmade in Ireland

    See more here of Moth to a Flame Candles, Click Here

    See more from Jerpoint Glass. Click Here

  • Spring time in Ireland

    Spring in Ireland is like a little slice of heaven. Nature puts on her fresh green party dress and the songbirds rejoice in a dawn chorus every morning. New life is everywhere, and fuzzy little lambs play joyful games in fields all over Ireland.

    Wildflowers decorate the hedgerows that border the fields, and have their moment of glory in the gentle spring sunshine.

    This Spring, as the blue wood anemones began to flower under the beech trees, the first of the lambs were born on the Zwartbles Ireland farm. These lovely chocolate coloured sheep are friendly, and when Maa had triplets she didn’t mind them being photographed.

    One of the triplets is a real chamer! She’s called Anemone, and she loves to explore all on her own.

    Anemone is the first one up in the morning for her breakfast. It’s like she knows she’ll need fuel for the day ahead— and today is going to be the lambs’ first day outside in the fields!

    Meeting the new neighbours is a little scary, but Anemone goes up and says a tentative hello.

    Not only is there fresh green grass to nibble out in the field, but there’s an interesting boot as well!

    All these new sights, tastes, and experiences are fun, but it is also great to get a little quality time with Maa.

    Anemone’s first day in the field is one that is repeated all over Ireland, and is part of the rhythm of life in here. The sound of lambs baa-ing, the gentle spring sun warming the earth & her inhabitants, and the scent of fresh grass just seems to make everyone say ‘ahhh..’

    Happily, you can enjoy the fresh scent of an Irish field anywhere in the world. Bog Standard have some lovely products created around, you guessed it-- Irish Fields!

    Bog Standard is a range of gorgeous candles, soaps and hand care inspired by and created in Ireland. It was at a tiny stone cottage retreat at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Co Down with ever changing vistas where the inspiration for Bog Standard came. Lush green patchworks of fields, windy twisty country roads, higgledy piggledy dry stone walls, long sandy beaches, moist mist and rain... In essence, Bog Standard "bottle" all that is lovely about Irish life and landscape, and share it. Wherever you travel in Ireland, you can’t fail to be seduced time and time again by the beauty, sights and smells of this land.

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