Sunday, April 29, 2012

Irish designers donate works to raise funds in Design for Life cystic fibrosis fundraiser

I love a good raffle but I've never seen a fundraiser quite like Design for Life. Every single prize is the covetable work of an Irish designer, donated to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

The incredible prizes range from organiser Jenny Walsh's stunning Creature Comforts cabinet (inspired by a child learning to walk and valued at €2,600) to the double-take Comfort Carafe by Locker 13 (a playful ceramic take on a ubiquitous product design worth €70), both of which are pictured below.

Leading furniture designer Jenny Walsh has organised the raffle in memory of her brother Shaun, who was born with cystic fibrosis. Word of her initiative soon spread in design circles and has resulted in the generous donations of Irish designed furniture, jewellery, homewares, prints and even a photography session, with a cumulative retail value of €7,000 at last count (items keep poring in).

Speaking of her brother, Jenny says: “My brother Shaun was one of the bravest people I’ve ever known. Being born with Cystic Fibrosis, he had more medical issues and spent more time in hospital than most of us can imagine. Despite everything he went through, I don’t think I ever once heard him complain.

“We were so blessed to have had him in our lives and hope that by contributing towards Cystic Fibrosis research we are honouring his memory while helping others who are still fighting for every breath to get the chance of a better life.”

The display of goodwill shown by Jenny’s colleagues in the Irish design world means a lot, she explains. “Shaun’s family are honoured that so many talented artists and designers have donated handmade award winning work to this raffle in his memory. Their generosity will hopefully lead to us raising much needed funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.”

It is hoped that the raffle will raise €10,000 to support cystic fibrosis research in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. Tickets can be purchased with great ease through for just €5 or 3 for €10. This showcase of contemporary Irish design will be exhibited in the Irish Design Shop, RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin, from June 1st to 7th with the prize draw taking place on June 7th.

Some of the amazing Design for Life raffle prizes include:
  • Creature Comforts Cabinet Jenny Walsh Design valued at €2,600
  • Heirloom Jewellery box by Karl Sweeny, valued at €750 (pictured below)
  • Ceramic wall art by Ulrika Holmquist, donated by the Irish Design Shop and valued at €600
  • ‘C Tables’, a pair of side tables by Klimmek – Henderson, valued at €550 (pictured below)
  • ‘Jellyfish’ Coffee table by Noel Whelan Design, valued at €450
  • ‘Summer Shadows’ from award-winning photographer Joby Hickey, printed on museum etching paper from negative plate of gelatine, silver sulphide & ammonia. Valued at €380.
  • Double Pod Lariat Necklace, winner of Best New Product Showcase 2012 by JLB Jewellery, valued at €275

  • A Claire Mc Alister Silver Squares Necklace
  • Crab Necklace from award-winning jeweller Eily O’Connell
  • Perspectives Shelving Unit by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €180
  • Kite Chair by Sticks Fine Furniture
  • ‘Tea Party’ Irish Linen Table Runner, winner of RDS National Crafts Competition by Jennifer Slattery, valued at €110
  • Aesop’s Fable Necklace by Saba Jewellery, valued at €108 (pictured below)
  • Earrings cast from acorns by Eily O’Connell, valued at €90
  • A photo session in your own home with photographer Emily Quinn
  • Handmade Wooden Stool by James (stickman) Carroll
  • Diamond Earrings by Precious, Project 51, valued at €80
  • Embroidered Wrap by Heather Finn Knitwear, valued at €75
  • Allium lampshade by Klickity, valued at €70 (pictured below)

  • Comfort Carafe from Locker 13, valued at €70
  • Flourish lampshade by recent DIT graduate Kathryn Payne
  • Limited Edition, Signed Print from Grand Grand
  •  “Time Flies” clock by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €28 (pictured below)

  • “Cuckoo Clock” by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €25
  • Skipping Rope by Nick Barker from Upcycle, as seen on Dragon’s Den!

Tickets can be purchased through or through the Irish Design Shop, Bow Lane East, Dublin 2 - Irish Design Shop, RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2 or Project 51, South William Street, Dublin2.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inside artist Laura de Búrca's Dublin studio

Dublin artist Laura de Búrca's work is mesmerising and evocative. I love her use of colour, her attention to detail and the way she can capture a precious moment of shifting light. Three of her pieces hang on my walls.

We attended the same school and recently bumped into each other in our local park, the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge. The NCAD graduate warmly welcomed me to her Thomas Street studio recently, which was a real visual treat.

Laura is currently working on a book about her father's family's orchard in the countryside near Tuam, Co. Galway. Poring over newspaper archives to find details of its prize-winning country fair entries and studying the people and the place in black and white photographs, she has been inspired to create a series of beautiful illustrations for the book, from the ivy-clad frontage of her grandparents' home to detailed studies of fruit and foliage.

Like sunlight breaking through the trees, she breathes vibrancy and light into the still-life studies of the apples and other fruit grown on the orchard. Her research has also shed light on Irish varieties that have since been replaced on shop shelves by imported fruit.

On Laura's desk (formerly owned by an architect and picked up for a song on a recycling website), my eye was instantly drawn by a series of tropical birds. The inspired choice of canvas? Paint sample tiles rescued from a skip outside the nearby Farrow & Ball showroom on Cornmarket. The English paint company is renowned for its range of high quality heritage colours, and I love how Laura has found a new use for her find. Red tags from a vintage label maker proudly describes the rather unusual breeds of bird, such as Candy Plumed Sundove (below), that she has brought to life.

Photos relating to Laura's painstaking research of the orchard also hang on the walls.

In every corner of the studio, creativity blooms. Laura, who has worked as an artist facilitator and workshop devisor with The Ark, a children's cultural centre in Temple Bar, made the leafy paper garland for a friend's wedding from old paper. She can also turn her hand to lifelike flowers, as pictured on top of a table she recently volunteered to upcycle for Oxfamhome on Francis Street, the subject of a blog post I wrote for the Oxfam Ireland website.

See Laura’s work on and She also blogs about colours on
The blog post about the table she upcycled for Oxfamhome is 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spare room inspiration... even when damp attacks

When we moved into the house in 2008, I did notice a smidgen of damp in the back bedroom. "Must get around to doing something about that," we muttered, adding it to a list of urgent works that included a new path, front door and a large-scale excavation of the back garden make part of it level with the ground floor of the house.

After those exhaustive (and expensive) projects were complete, into the spare room we dumped boxes containing all that stuff that's difficult to part from such as old college newspapers, childhood photos, favourite books, letters and postcards throughout the years, notes from college courses (okay, I was too lazy to begin sorting through 'supply chain management' and 'administrative law'). The possibility of the room looking something like the photo below seemed a more remote possibility.

This back bedroom, notionally titled 'the study', is where a well-made but lonely foosball table sits among the boxes. There has been a few mass-clearing out rampages over the years, but my decision to do a post-grad in primary teaching led to more books, stationery and notes taking residence. We prefer to keep the door to this room closed.

However, avoiding the area has proven costly, as the little bit of damp has now spread in a dramatic fashion, requiring a deal of work that would have been significantly lessened had we tackled it a few years back. So, a big job ahead.

Treating the damp, which may involve rebuilding the chimney contributing to the leak along with repointing it, plus wall treatments, will mean that whatever funds we have to finish the spare room will be minimal. However, I don't want to spend too much on decorating this room, as it may become a bathroom if we decide (funds allowing) to embrace negative equity (see previous post) and build a two-storey extension.

I had spent the past few weeks happily collating images in my Spare Room Inspiration folder on Pinterest (seriously addictive and the reason for less blog posts of late). I'd like muted white or grey walls, blackboards and punches of colour. Here's a selection:

Source: via Sorcha on Pinterest

Source: via Sorcha on Pinterest

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dublin's Creative Quarter: A capital idea

Back in the rare 'aul times, Dublin was made up of designated city trade quarters all but forgotten today, save for street names such as Fishamble Street, Copper Alley and Winetavern Street.

Today, there's the newish Italian quarter built on the north quays by Mick Wallace and a long-standing Antique Quarter on Francis Street in the west inner city, while Temple Bar is the Cultural Quarter.

Now the area around South Great George's Street and South William Street will be designated the Creative Quarter. The Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) is behind the move and describe the area as "a hub of innovation which hosts an exceptional array of designer boutiques, creative businesses and plenty more".

ARCADE ADMIRE: The beautiful facade of the George's Street Arcade, now part of the city's Creative Quarter, as designated by the Dublin City Business Improvement District. Image: Alison Cornford-Matheson/Dreamtimes

HUB OF CREATIVITY: South Great George's Street (the red A balloon) and South William Street to the right. Image: Google Maps

Among the design businesses in the Creative District are Designist (68 South Great George's Street, next door to Brasserie Sixty6) and Article, which has just moved into a stunning new space on the ground floor of the Powerscourt Centre, South William Street. The area has attracted a number of independent businesses, from deli and bakery Lolly and Cooks in Victorian wonder George's Street Arcade, to the recently opened Irish fashion store Blind Tiger Collective, featured previously on Mo Theach, on South William Street.

I LIKE MY TEA TWEET: #LoveDublin mugs designed by, a store in Dublin's newly designated Creative Quarter, as part of a collaboration with Le Cool Dublin. The mugs are inspired by tweets under #LoveDublin and designed by Donal Thornton. There are three mugs (€10 each) to choose from, 'Walk of Shame', 'Mix Tweets' and 'Mug of Tea'. 

According to BID, this area was once Dublin's original garment district, where specialist design thrived. Fashionistas of the 18th century flocked to these furriers, dress-makers, glove-makers and couture coat manufacturers.

A number of events, part of the St. Patrick's Festival, are taking place tomorrow, Friday March 16th, to launch the Creative District. These include the launch of Project A Apparel as part of the Blind Tiger Collective (12pm-2pm) and a lecture by fashion historian Ruth Griffin on local fashion history in Om Diva Boutique on Drury Street (6pm).

One I'd love to go is Scribble Dublin at the Designist store at 68 South Great George's Street (6pm-8pm) featuring Irish company Klickity's scribble frames. Mark Flood (see his work on David Mc William's Punk Economics videos) will be on illustrator duties, designs from other top illustrators will be auctioned and there will be a gigantic version of Klickity's scribble frame to get your picture taken in.

CITY SCRIBB': Poster for tomorrow's Scribble Dublin event at Designist on South Great George's Street. Image:

Other events (taking place between 6pm and 8pm) are a celebration of Irish food to be held in Fallon and Byrne and a 'Meet the Designers' evening as part of the festival of Irish Design featuring Project 51 in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland. Designers include Geraldine Murphy of Saba Jewellery.

I'd love to see more designated districts in Dublin. Some ideas related to my local area include:

The Brewery Quarter: The Guinness Storehouse is among the most visited tourist attractions in the country, yet the surrounding streets are dead and many buildings derelict. The area already has lots to offer in the form of the Digital Hub, NCAD, Vicar Street, local businesses such as Manning's Bakery and the newly-opened Arthur's. It would be great to see the huge Georgian buildings on James Street currently up for let occupied and the old Victorian market buildings in the area rescued from decay.

A BREW LEASE OF LIFE? The old Guinness windmill, now surrounded by the Digital Hub on James' Street. It would be great to see a Brewery Quarter developed for tourists and locals alike.
STEP BACK INTO TIME: Kilmainham Gaol, a must-see Dublin visiter attraction. If you're walking from the Guinness Storehouse, don't expect clear signage to help you find it.

The Gaol/Military Quarter: Hundreds of tourists walk each day from the Guinness Storehouse to Kilmainham Gaol, often missing the small sign for the turn at Bow Lane, and walking past St. James' Hospital and often up into Inchicore, as there is no sign for the Gaol at the junction of Old Kilmainham and South Circular Road. (The most scenic route is to walk down James' Street, then at the triangle in the centre of the road, take the road in the middle, Bow Lane West, which continues onto Kilmainham Lane, then it's at the top of this road).

Kilmainham also has the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital and the War Memorial Gardens, along with Clancy Barracks (part of a late Celtic Tiger development site and currently being used as a filming location). It would be great to see the area more geared to tourists, with perhaps a special trail like they have in Boston, from the Brewery Quarter, for example.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Irish language clothing and homeware le haghaidh Seachtain na Gaeilge

Cuireadh tús le Seachtain na Gaeilge ar an Luan agus beidh imeachtaí den scoth ar siúl as seo amach go dtí an 17ú Márta, Lá le Pádhraic.
Seachtain na Gaeilge began on Monday and great events will be taking place from now until March 17th, St. Patrick's Day.

Má tá fonn ort cur le do chúpla focal, tá neart ranganna teagaisc ar siúl ar fud na tíre, chomh maith le tionscnaimh nua ar nós an láithreán líonraithe shóisialta Abair Leat agus feachtas teilifíse Bród Club ar RTÉ.
If you would like to add to your cúpla focal, there are lots of Irish language classes across the country, along with new initiatives such as social media site Abair Leat and the Bród Club television campaign on RTÉ.

Is féidir linn go léir a bheith inár gcónaitheoirí sa Ghaeltacht. Tá cur síos maith ar an gcoincheap seo i ngné-alt leis an gceannlíne 'Mise agus an Ghaeilge' a bhí ar an Irish Times an tseachtain seo caite. Cé gur as Baile Átha Cliath mé, tógadh le Gaeilge sa bhaile mé agus d'fhreastal mé ar mheánscoil trí mheán na Gaeilge.
We can all be residents of the Gaeltacht. There is a good description of this concept in a feature headlined 'Mise agus an Ghaeilge' that appeared in The Irish Times last week. Although I'm from Dublin, I was raised with Irish as my first language and I attended secondary school through the medium of Irish.

Agus is féidir Seachtain na Gaeilge a cheiliúradh gach lá leis na hearraí tí agus éadach Gaelacha thíos:
And Seachtain na Gaeilge can be celebrated every day with the Irish language homewares and clothing below:

CÚPLA CUPÁN TAE i nAGHAIDH AN LAE: Cupán tae Príomhshráid ('Mainstreet') le fáil i réimse dathanna ó Placed. Tá ainmneacha na siopaí i nGaeilge ( Siopa Caife, An Sos Tae).
 Le fáil ó shiopa Etsy Placed (thart ar €12 an ceann + postas). Tá páipéir maisiúcháin (thart ar €2.60), cartaí (thart ar €3.65) agus tuaillaí tae déanta le prionta lámh (thart ar €16) i nGaeilge le fáil freisin, mar atá le feiceáil sna pictiúir thíos. Tá na hearraí ar díol in Article, Ionad Powerscourt, Baile Átha Cliath 2, freisin. Íomhanna: Placed

O'BAMA RAMA: Chuir uachtarán Mheirceá Barack Obama Gaeilge ar a ráiteas 'Yes We Can' nuair a thug sé óráid i mBaile Átha Cliath i mí Bealtaine, 2011.
Dhear I Love Mayo an prionta 'Is Féidir Linn' chun an ócáid seo a cheiliúradh agus an prionta álainn I Love Cáca Milis ('cake') thíos.
Tá an praghas idir €7.95 agus €24.95 (+ postas), ag brath ar an méid agus má tá 'mounting' de dhith uait. Le fáil ó shuíomh Garrendenny Lane freisin. Íomhanna: I Love Mayo

OH MO DHIA: Is léir gur thug Lionel Richie agus a amhrán 'Hello' an-inspioráid go deo do lucht Hairy Baby agus tá an t-léine seo le fáil i ndathanna éagsúla ar €20 (+ postas) sa sladmhargadh. Tá réimse leathan de t-léinte i nGaeilge le fáil, an ceann thíos leis na focla cáiliúla ó fhógra Carlsberg cúpla bliain ó shin. Íomhanna: Hairy Baby

BOG STANDARD IRISH, TOP NOTCH PRINT: Is féidir le gach duine a d'fhreastal ar scoil in Éirinn an cheist, 'An Bhfuil Cead Agam dul Amach go dtí an Leithreas?' ('May I have permission to go to the toilet?' as taught to generations of Irish children) a chur. Tá an prionta seo le fáil ó shiopa Etsy FunkyGibbo (thart ar €15 + postas). Íomha: FunkyGibbo ar Etsy 

TXT SPK AS GAEILGE: OMG = Oh Mo Dhia, nó OMD, i nGaeilge. Tá an OMD hoodie le fáil ón Spailpín Fánach sa Spidéal, Conamara, ar chostas €32 (+ postas). Íomha: An Spailpín Fánach

FADA FAISIN: Ceist ghramadaí nó canúinte? Is breá liom hoodie How's Your Fada? (€35 + postas) ón chomhlacht Deir Sé. Íomha: Deir Sé