Tag Archives: Monaghan

Winter Wonderland

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Winter Wonderland

Meteorologists tell us that last night was the coldest night of our winter so far, with temperatures plummeting to -7.  There is no increase in temperatures in sight.

Most of the country has recovered from recent snowfalls, but up here in Mullyash, we seem to enjoy a micro-climate all our own.  Rarely is the weather the same at home, as it is just ten minutes’ drive away in my nearest town of Castleblayney.  While the snow down in town is long gone, with daytime temperatures not rising much above zero, ours is still stretched out in a virgin sea of white.

I am always saying how lucky I feel to have found my old derelict forge some ten years ago, and how inspiring it is, to have views from the highest point in Co Monaghan over the whole county, as well as over Co Cavan and beyond.

This morning, when I went out to feed my hens, and bring them fresh water as their dish had frozen solid, I smiled to see the evidence of some other residents!

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Here you’ll see where a nice fat bird crossed the path of a passing hare. I wonder if they met and shared an early-morning chat?

The sun was shining so brightly that I could have used a pair of sunglasses.  The colours and the long shadows were fabulous. I can’t help but share the views I was treated to.  This is the beauty of my Ireland on a cold, winter’s day.

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My moment in the spotlight

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They say that everyone can enjoy a few minutes of fame in their lifetime.  Mine came when the film-makers arrived at King’s Forge, to have a look at what I do.

Irish TV is a new channel with the brief to show the world the real Ireland. County Matters is a half hour programme, and every county has its own team County Matters film-makers, on the lookout for items of interest in the locality.

I was honoured to be asked to be featured, and attached is the very first episode of County Matters – Monaghan.  First, viewers have a look at Monaghan’s own Rally School; there’s an interview with the owner of the famous Castle Leslie, along with an insight into entrepreneurs Combi Lift.

King’s Forge is featured right after the Rally School, and viewers get to have a pretty good look around my forge workshop hidden away at the top of the fabulous Monaghan countryside, and a little insight into what goes into making fused glass.  Enjoy!

http://www.irishtv.ie/monaghan-matters-episode-1-part-1/

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Sky channel 191 for all the latest episodes of County Matters, from every corner of Ireland.

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.

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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Fabulous & Friends pop-up in Clones!

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For this weekend only, Clones is transformed from Irish rural town, to festival HQ, as they celebrate their annual Clones Canal Capers Festival.

As part of the madness, the Fabulous creative crew, along with invited friends, are opening their popular pop-up shop once again.

Encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor, together with silk painter Louise Loughman, with help from well-known painter Roisin Duffy, transformed the vacant premises at Diamond DIY from this ….

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… to this …

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The shop looks amazing!  Open daily this weekend only Friday – Sunday 7-9 September 2012 from 10am-6pm. All the work is handmade in Co. Monaghan.  Participating artists include those named above, along with Liz Christy‘s handwoven shawls and scarves; natural soaps and more from Irish Scentsations, Dorinda McCormack‘s handwoven handbags and purses, and some of my own Kings Forge Glass.  There’s lots more local crafts besides, and a visit is without doubt most worthwhile.

Might be an ideal opportunity to pick up some early Christmas gifts… all handmade with pride, in Monaghan.

Hope to you you there!

Fortstock Festival, Clones

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Hi, this is the start of my new blog… the thoughts that come into, and hopefully, out of my head from time to time!

My name’s Grace, and I make fused glass.  Ok, confession over!

Last weekend, together with some fellow artists, we descended on Clones with a pop-up art and craft shop, to coincide with the inaugural Fortstock Music Festival.  With all the hard work done, my friend, encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor and I were standing behind the till, when we were asked to be interviewed for Shannonside Northern Sound radio, 94-98FM!

Tonight, Tuesday’s Business Show, hosted by Claire Noble, is aired from 8-9pm. Don’t miss it!

Fabulous@Fortstock, Clones, June 2012

Fabulous@Fortstock, Clones, June 2012, featuring some of the ‘Fabulous’ work of Monaghan’s artists! These included Liz Christy, Louise Loughman, Niamh O’Connor, Roisin Duffy, Catherina Donaghy, as well as my own King’s Forge Glass!