Monthly Archives: June 2013

Legacy – Workshop with Sylvia Thompson

cropped-image.jpgAn evening of memories and exploration of traditional skills in Offaly. Sylvia Thompson, Irish Times Journalist and author of Hands On: the art of crafting in Ireland introduced us to her book on traditional skills in Ireland.

Sylvia BookThis beautiful book is based on Sylvia’s widely read column for the Irish Times and celebrates the wealth of crafts practised throughout Ireland.   Hands On: the art of crafting in Ireland details the history of forty eclectic crafts from basketmaking to woodturning and provides concise information on where to see them, where to learn them and whats involved.

The book is broken into five categories, each then containing more detailed information on specific crafts;

Sylvia discussed the categories which are Studio based crafts, Stitching and weaving crafts, Home based crafts, Outdoor crafts and Restoration and Conservation Crafts. We reminised on days gone by when traditional skills were a way of life and we valued the skills of hand -making.

Sylvia shared her experiences of meeting the craft makers in their studios, how they work and the skills required for different crafts.

Padraig Larkin, basketmaker shared his passion for traditional weaving methods and brought us through his varied range of baskets and weving techniques. Padraig explained the teaching process and how you could learn the basics of making a small basket in a day and a larger one in a two day workshop.


Following on Sylvia introduced us to award winning fiber artist Frances Crowe. Frances told us that tapestry weaving is one of the oldest forms of woven textiles and the basic techniques have remained the same for centuries. Frances showed us amazing examples of her own work and explained what you could learn in her workshops. Frances runs workshops for Adults and children in spinning and tapestry weaving. She showed us examples of pieces that can be made from her beginners workshop.


We then had the opportunity to learn from Frances Fitzgerald about the art of patchwork and quilting. Frances had amazing pieces made form her childrens drawings, one of which she won an award for. She explained the skill and patience involved in this wonderful craft and how satisifying it is to see your completed piece. In fact one of her students from a one day workshop showed us a fabulous bag she had made. Frances also noted  the social aspect of  patchwork and quilting while you learn the basics of using a sewing machine, the basic techniques that can be applied to may products such as bags, cushion covers and wall hangings. All you need is you imagination!

patchworkAll in all, thanks to Sylvia, Padraig, Frances and Frances and Offaly Local Development Company we had an really interesting evening. Kilcormac Community Centre was buzzing with the excitement and anticipation of the upcoming programme. There was plenty of time for refreshments and chat with other craft makers and to meet the craft tutors that were there.

More details of this programme to follow.


Legacy – Traditional Skills Programme for Offaly


Invitation to Revive Traditional Skills


This Wednesday night Kilcormac Community Centre is to host the first in a series of county-wide workshops designed to revive traditional Irish skills and crafts. Many of these skills and crafts have fallen victim to mass production and the growth in imported goods.  Everything from shoe making to tailoring, weaving, and needlework along with  pottery, woodwork and metal-craft suffered when the factory-produced product became readily available.


Craft making became an isolated skill but in recent years Offaly Local Development Company (OLDC) has been to the forefront in supporting craft makers throughout the county. In an initiative designed to revive traditional crafts and skills the OLDC has initiated a programme entitled ‘Legacy.’ This programme involves the convening of a series of traditional skills workshops throughout the county.


Aileen Duffy is heading up the initiative for OLDC and she believes there is no time to be lost in supporting and reviving traditional crafts and skills, “These crafts and skills were once a way of life in every town and village in the country and there is now a gap in or traditions and heritage.  The Legacy series of training events and workshops is designed to bridge that gap,” Aileen said.


She is inviting everybody, those with old skills, new skills and none to come to one or the series of workshops, “Come along,” she encourages, “and discover which traditional skill could become your new skill.”


The first in the series of these workshops is to be given by Sylvia Thompson, Irish Time Journalist and author of “Irish Crafts hands On.’ It takes place on this Wednesday night, June 27 from 7.00pm to 9.30pm at Kilcormac Community Centre.