I have always liked working with my hands. I come from a family of stone masons on my fathers side. My brother, all my uncles, my father and his father and his father all worked with stone. On my mothers side side my grandfather was a fisherman. Tiz in the blood.
I grew up in the coastal town of Ballybunion, County Kerry in the west of Ireland. It has beautiful high cliffs and open sandy beaches. I absolutely loved growing up here. County Kerry is one of the furthest western points of Europe and looking out into this vast openness of the atlantic ocean was soul expanding.
I went to Crawford College in Cork at the age of 17 to study a degree in Fine Art. It was sculpture and textiles that were my passion. I worked with lead, steel and raw silk amongst many other materials. Here I was introduced to glass and I immediately became engrossed in it. I made large sculptural pieces using a range of glass methods such as casting, stained glass, etching, slumping and fusing.
I loved the magic of the glass. The way the glass intermingled into a crystallised cascade of colour dancing with the light. I loved how malleable it was but at the same time unpredictable.
I began making glass jewellery after buying my own kiln for my home and started selling it in the local market. I am happy that I had the courage to put myself out there back than. Because it can be so hard to have that confidence and trust in ourselves. But we really must because we never know what road it will take us down.
This was the start of a new chapter for me.
It was an incredible gift as it gave me so much independence. It helped me through college and at the age of 20 after finishing my degree, I took off into the world. This was the start of years of travelling for me. In these years I crossed over the borders of around 80 countries, over 5 continents.
“I was filled with such awe for the world and the people who live in it. I experienced such warmth and generosity. Especially those who have so little, give so much.”
Drawn to far flung places in the world, I always loved that feeling of being as far as I could be from the feeling of familiarity. To be on my own, surrounded by a different language, smell, people, clothes and tradition. It was a mixed feeling of awe, wonder, admiration, adventure, a feeling of pushing the boat out! I was attracted to how people lived. The different ways we can do things together. And what can grow out of that. It is culture that I love. Culture is a reflection of people and their land. It grows through them and out of the them and shapes everything about their ways. Culture represents all the beauty humans have created. These experiences made me appreciate deeply our Irish traditions and roots. It let me see our stories, our language, our music, our poetry with new eyes. Those of us alive on this island today are the culmination of all those who have gone before us and are gifted with this rich legacy.
Travelling alone warms your heart of how beautiful and giving humans are. You realise you are never alone. You never were. There was always a hand of friendship offered where ever I went. The common thread I experienced throughout my years, throughout all the countries and throughout all the cultures, was an open hearted welcome.
This world is full of love when we open ourselves up to receive it.
I was coming back to Ireland regularly throughout these years. I travelled around Ireland to the fairs and art festivals selling my work. I loved working around the spark of joy and celebration that is in the air at these events. Everyone is in good spirits as the music and sun and the odd shower of rain bellows through the streets.
During these years I spent a lot of time in India, going to and from there 7 times altogether. And I’m sure Ill be back again. I made my glass all over India, from the middle of Delhi, to the mountains in Kashmir, to the beaches of the tropical south, to the gypsy desert state of Rajisthan.
During my travels, I got to expand on my jewellery skills. I learned flame work from Tibetan refugee women in north India. The Dalai Lama was their neighbour-his house was just a few doors away. On average it would take them roughly 40 days to cross the mountains to get from Tibet to India. Strong resilient women. They didn’t speak english but we didn’t need to. They showed me how to blow glass beads.
I learned silver smithing from different silversmiths in India throughout the years. It is lovely to be working away at the entrance to the shop, drinking chai, smelting silver, as cows, who wander around indian streets, come up to say Namaste.
I have been back in Ireland almost 3 years now. I live with my boyfriend in an old 1700s cottage in the countryside in Galway, near the Burren mountains. I love the west. I love all of this land. I love the wildness of the landscape and weather and how that wildness is reflected in the people. They are salt of the earth. My wandering spirit has became rooted in the soul of this land. This has given me the opportunity to hang up my travelling gypsy style jewellery making roadshow for awhile, or perhaps forever.
I never had an online store. People would always ask me but I liked the freedom of how I sold my work. Now after 15 years Im ready to open one and to start a new stage in my life. Two years ago I moved into my own workshop. It is the most permanent space I have had since leaving art college 12 years ago. I have a place to play around with glass and open many boxes of tools that have been stored away. This has given me a place to really experiment with different ideas and ways of working with glass. This collection of jewellery has grown out of this place and time.
Take your dreams seriously and have the courage and trust in yourself to go for them. No matter how wild they may look to others, there is a reason you are dreaming them.
Bring them to life through you!
Coinnaigh lastá í….Keep her Lit!
Go raibh mile maith agat mo chairde,
I hope you enjoy the new store.
Grá, Draiocht agus Tuatha.