I haven’t been to The National Crafts & Design Fair for a few years and boy was I impressed by both the entrepreneurship and creativity when I visited today. There are over 500 of Ireland’s top craftspeople showcasing their handcrafted wares, everything from pendants to pieces of furniture, all together under one roof. The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland is represented and it is wonderful to see Guaranteed Irish with an even bigger presence than usual, supporting a number of diverse exhibitors from beauty and jewellery to fashion and textiles. If you want a unique gift for a loved one, or you want to treat yourself to something special, then this is the place for you.
Here, I hope to give you a flavour of what’s on offer, in my National Craft & Design Fair edit.
I am always drawn to the jewellery…well, I am a woman! There are many of Ireland’s top designers here and you can find something to suit every price range.
Chupi’s pieces will appeal to all ages and in her collection you see her celebrate Ireland’s heritage. Her aesthetic is influenced by the imperfect natural beauty of feathers, twigs and leaves complemented by gemstones. I Iove her tiny swan feather necklace in silver, gold and rose gold. Prices €139 to €159 or her gold initial necklace with one disc and birthstone €99. Her jewellery is made for your inner magpie, with delicate pieces in sparkling gold and the shiniest semi-precious gems. I know many a young or not-so-young lady who would be delighted with a Chupi creation!
Laragh McMonagle www.bylaragh.com has some dramatic necklaces, combining silver with rough nuggets of stone such as aquamarine and amethyst. Sculpted silver shells, pods and flowers, all inspired by nature, are unusual and reasonably priced.
CERAMICS, WOOD and HOUSE AND HOME
Ceramics feature strongly at the Fair. Edyta’s pieces www.edytaart.ie (below) are immediately recognisable. From Poland originally, she has settled here and works from Stradbally in Laois, from where she sells to clients worldwide.
Grainne Watts www.grainnewattsceramic.com is also worth a walk upstairs.
If you are looking for something different in the way of lamps, tables or wooden bowls for your home, you will find plenty to tempt you, all made in Ireland by some of our top craftspeople. There are large pieces from www.mangocrafts.com and also a clever chair that turns into a step-ladder.
What about this stained glass lamp, below, made from 1,500 pieces by Agnes Preece in Dublin. For more information see www.stainedglasslamps.ie
There are many talented wood-turners at the Fair but Roger Bennett is a craftsman like no other. His inverted cone-shaped bowls (below) are incredibly delicate, coloured with wood dyes and inlayed with precious metal. Look here for something truly different.
At ‘Forgotten China’ (38), I was tempted by soy wax candles in vintage china tea cups and teacup lights. There were earrings, cufflinks and pendants upcycled from old broken china and they even offer a bespoke service. For example, if you have your granny’s favourite chipped tea cup, it can be transferred into some pieces of jewellery to keep forever. How clever is that!
Last year, a Waterford teacher Angela Mc Carthy developed a board game “Chase Across The Square”, an action-packed game of speed and calculation to help children develop confidence with numbers in a fun way which has already received accolades from educationalists and can be bought in a number of toy stores.
You won’t be able to pass by Avokado and Co (64) fun Irish Signs and Irish Gifts without indulging. My favourite are the ‘Irish Mammy Sayings’ and prices start at around €13. These are perfect if you need to send some gifts overseas that are not too expensive to post either.
The Irish Telephone Box (A 72 ) brought me back in time and I wondered if I would have space in my home for the large one. Of course, they have a full range of accessories such as key rings, Christmas decorations and fridge magnets. Go on line to read their story www.irishtelephonebox.com
Anneco Beauty (www.annecobeauty.com) (IR10) has natural mineral make-up and wonderful make-up remover that is high in antioxidants and omega-rich plant oils, that I am assured will even deal with waterproof mascara. Green Angel (www.GreenAngel.com), also nearby, has beautiful products and I was impressed with their hand and body scrub which has won numerous awards.
TEXTILES & FASHION ACCESSORIES
Textiles and Fashion Accessories are well represented. If you want a nice cosy gift for the man in your life, there’s an extensive – and very colourful – array of warm woollen socks on display at the Donegal Socks stand.
Below you can see a selection of scarves produced from a combination of felt and wool and hand-dyed by Kate Ramsey www.fabulousfelt.ie
And if you have worn yourself out with all the crafts then you can visit the Food Hall and indulge in some of the best artisan foods Ireland and Europe have to offer. I was particularly taken with the tempting array of produce from The Country Kitchen in Nenagh, below, and the chocolate chip and honeycomb sausages from Barry Johns Sausages were surprisingly delicious. Encouraged to try out Ginos Gelato by a lady called Siobhan, I am now a convert. I didn’t realise that it is a franchise owned by two Irishmen who trained in Italy and have been in the business for over twenty years. Delicious and kind of healthy!
Venue: RDS Main Hall, Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Parking: Simmonscourt Car Park (free shuttle bus to RDS)
Dart: IO-minute walk from Sandymount Station
Tickets €10 (accompanied under 16 free) at the door or online www.nationalcraftsfair.ie
Thurs 1st Dec 10am-10 pm
Fri 2nd Dec 10am-10pm
Sat 3rd Dec 10am-7pm
Sun 4th Dec 10 am-7pm
Complimentary gift wrapping is worth using and also a complimentary cloakroom service is a nice touch. Go early as there is a lot to see. I will be posting one or two more photos a day of my top picks until Sunday. Please sign up with your email for future posts so you don’t miss anything exciting and feel free to share if you like this post. Choose your platform below. Follow me on Instagram for updates on overthehilda and Twitter on @overthehilda