Tag Archives: Dublin

Dublin Showcase a Host of Irish Talent

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Just back from a trip to Dublin’s RDS, which annually invites Irish artists, craftspeople and fashion designers to showcase their work to buyers from all over the world.  This is a trade fair, not open to the general public, but it is instead an opportunity for wholesale buyers to see what is new and exciting in the creative arena here in Ireland, and to place their orders for the year ahead.

What a wonderful venue, and full to the brim of humbling talent.  As my friend, encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor, and I strolled round the stalls, we spoke to many of the exhibitors.  For some reason, my impression was that the majority of the stallholders were women, and it is, of course, wonderful to see women forge ahead in such exciting and creative fields.

There are several halls exhibiting the more established businesspeople, as well as up and coming artists.  Monaghan, where I’m from, was well represented, with batik artist Louise Loughman, weaver Liz Christy, Brenda McGinn of Busy Bee Ceramics, and fashion designer Helen Steele, all busy with buyers.

Silk painter and batik artist Louise Loughman, at Showcase 2013.

Silk painter and batik artist Louise Loughman, at Showcase 2013.

There really is something for every taste at Showcase.  Fashion is stunning, with a catwalk parade twice daily; there’s woodwork, stonework, sculpture, ceramics (check out Sarah McKenna and Ian Carty), visual art (Breda Marron and Patricia Murphy come to mind), textile art (my own favourites were Breda McNelis and Bernadette Fox), jewellery design, furniture design, home decor, giftware, soap and candle makers, and so much more.

My own special interest is, of course, in glass, and I wasn’t disappointed!  There was stained glass work, blown glass (check out the work of Kerry Crafted Glass – blown 100% recycled glass), and plenty of my medium, fused glass, on offer, with gorgeous work on display from artists Jonathan Ball, Louise Rice, and my own favourite Maura Whelan, amongst others!

If you can beg, borrow, or steal a pass, make it your business to check out Showcase in Dublin’s RDS … at the very least, you can look online at www.showcaseireland.com.  And don’t forget, it’s up to all of us to support these businesses, by buying local and buying handmade.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Things have been very busy for the last few weeks, with lots of glass to get ready for all the Christmas shops popping up around the country.

I’m delighted to have my handmade fused glass on sale in Galway’s ‘Granny Likes It’ on Abbeygate Street…now open!

You can always find it in the gorgeous Glasson Craft Gallery in Co. Westmeath, just outside Athlone.

And now, I’m thrilled to be included in Dublin’s newest retail outlet for quality Irish art and craft… the tasty Irish Design Selection in the Westbury Mall, off Grafton Street.

With so much making, baking and boxing going on, the studio became a very busy spot. Here’s a picture of my constant companion, and would-be helper, Pip the poodle!

Pip the Poodle

It’s a dog’s life!

Gur Cake comes to Monaghan

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I’m looking forward to displaying my hand made glass at this weekend’s Taste of Monaghan festival.  It’s a chance to combine my two great passions… my glass work, and of course, food!

I don’t know about you, but I know my own childhood memories are peppered with food associations.  Any other Dubs out there (that is, people from Dublin, Ireland), at least those of a certain vintage, will remember Gur Cake.  The name supposedly comes from the slang word ‘gurrier’ – a young Dublin rascal!  In fact, Gur Cake is the same as Chester Cake or Fruit Slice.

It was created long ago, and is cheap and easy to make.  I suspect it was developed to make something sweet and satisfying out of leftovers… with our current economic status, maybe this is the perfect time to bring it back, although it may never have gone away!

It’s hard to be specific with a recipe, as every bakery, and family, had their own take on Gur Cake.  At its simplest, it is a mixture of bread and fruit, baked in a roasting dish, between two layers of pastry.  When cool, it is cut into generous slabs, and is filling and satisfying!  Here’s how to go about it… experiment and find a recipe to suit yourselves!

Break up a small white loaf (or cake or brioche), stale is fine, in a bowl.  Add enough liquid to bind.  I used about a quarter pint of milk… but think of tea, espresso, perhaps a dollop of brandy, or Irish whisky! Add a beaten egg, 500g dried fruit, a cup of caster sugar, the grated rind and juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of mixed spice, a spoonful of treacle to give it its traditional dark colour, and mix it all up.

Roll out enough shortcrust pastry to cover the base of a deep, square baking dish, or roasting tray.  Spoon the gur filling on top, and cover with another layer of shortcrust pastry.  Prick the top with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a moderate oven (about 180C) for about 40 minutes.

When cool, dust with icing sugar if you’d like, cut into squares… and enjoy!  Serve it up to a Dub near you, and listen to them reminisce!

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