Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Photo of Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Ireland may be more renowned for its "soft days" than for hot temperatures and intense sunshine but one thing that is guaranteed is a wealth of talent when it comes to craft and design here.

With craftspeople who can compete with those working anywhere in the world today, and access to some of the highest quality materials to be found globally, local visitors and tourists alike can encounter a wealth of options when it comes to open studios to visit, workshops to attend and the very best craft shops countrywide.

Below you’ll find just some of our recommendations as to the very best craft and design destinations to visit this summer.

Criostal na Rinne in the Waterford Gaeltacht:

Criostal na Rinne is situated in the Irish-speaking area of An Rinn in Co. Waterford - the Waterford Gaeltacht. Established by Eamonn Terry, a master craftsman with over 45 years of experience working with crystal, it is a small family-run business located near the Waterford Greenway and near to the historic towns of Dungarvan, Lismore, Cork and Ardmore. One-on-one tours are available at the workshop but groups of eight or more persons should phone in advance of their visit.

Martina Hamilton's The Cat & The Moon in Sligo town:

Photo of Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Established in 1989 and named after the play and poem of the same name by W.B. Yeats, jewellery designer Martina Hamilton’s shop in Sligo - The Cat & The Moon - is a much loved store with a focus on Irish design.

The shop is stocked with the work of Martina herself, who produces beautiful, wearable items of jewellery in precious metals, pearls and gemstones, as well as the work of many other renowned jewellery designers from Ireland including Alan Ardiff, Enibas, Bláithín Ennis, Paul Coyne, Maureen Lynch, Juvi and Seamus Gill.

The Cat & The Moon also stocks the work of ceramicists and glass makers Stephen Farnan, Paul Maloney and Jerpoint Glass, as well as the designs of McKernan, Red Rufus, Foxford, McNutt and Black Hen among many other fine examples of Irish design and craft. A must-see on any trip to Sligo.

The Jerpoint Glass Studio in Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny:

Photo of Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Watching glass being blown by hand is an exciting spectacle and really allows one to appreciate the work and effort that goes into the production of a handmade piece of glass.

From the viewing area in the glass studio at Jerpoint, between 10am and 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 1pm on Fridays, you can watch the glass blowers at their craft as they turn molten glass into beautiful items of functional glassware.

In the building next door you will then find Jerpoint’s shop and gallery where you can purchase some of the beautiful items made at the studio.

Garrett Mallon and The Carlingford Design House:

Photo of Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Designer, jeweller and goldsmith Garrett Mallon has been working with precious metals and gemstones for over 25 years. Garrett has an open studio on the shores of Carlingford Lough in The Carlingford Design House where he also runs regular jewellery classes where you can learn to make a silver pendant or ring.

Garrett also hosts wedding ring workshops several times a year during which he works with couples to produce their wedding rings. The Carlingford Design House also has a purpose-built classroom upstairs where classes are run for both children and adults in disciplines such as felting and ceramics.

Garrett’s studio is in a space in the middle of the shop itself, and is surrounded by glass, so you can view him at work while browsing his edit of items made by some 75 other designers and makers from north and south of the border including Jill Graham and Rebeka Kahn.

Studio Donegal in Kilcar, Co. Donegal:

Photo of Destination Design: Where to go for the best craft and design this summer

Situated in Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Studio Donegal make a beautiful range of products for both the person and the home including clothing such as capes and jackets, accessories such as scarves, and home items such as throws and cushions of the finest quality.

Studio Donegal celebrates 40 years in business this year and is run by Managing Director Tristan Donaghy and his wife Anne. Tristan took over the running of the business from his parents Kevin and Wendy Donaghy and is dedicated to the preservation of hand weaving in Co. Donegal.

As a working mill, Studio Donegal operates the regular working hours of 9am to 5.30pm, however to see the weavers at work, it's best to visit earlier in the day when you can wander at your own pace and witness the complexity of the craft to give you a real sense of the beauty inherent in the items being produced here.

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