Christmas markets and fairs will be taking place in villages and towns throughout the country over the next few weeks and here in Carlow we’re no exception. In a few days time we will be given the chance to experience a whole programme of events for Christmas in Carlow and on Sunday we’ll be offered a little ‘Taste of Carlow’, when local crafts people and food producers will come together under one roof to show us their wares.
Over thirty local producers will be selling products that range from gingerbread cookies and fresh water pearl jewellery to locally produced honey, wood turned bowls and chocolate this Sunday, 30th November 2014 from noon until 6.00pm.
We are also promised entertainment throughout the afternoon from Santa who will be there with Rudolph and his friends, carol singing from local choirs as well as demos during this free event.
I’m really enjoying getting to meet and recognise many of the small, local business’ that work hard all year and who appreciate the help we can give them when we shop locally, particularly at Christmas time when most of us are spending a little bit more on gifts or for Christmas feasts. If you can’t make this event, on Sunday, 7th December Duckett’s Grove will be opening its grand gates for a magical sounding Christmas fair, but more of that coming up soon.
Are you planning to spend a bit more time looking for and buying more artisan food and local craft this Christmas and support the Slow Food movement and local communities?
Green and Vibrant are helping to spread the word about the Taste of Carlow event. Keep an eye out for the #TasteCarlowChristmas hashtag for more information and updates.
A couple of years ago I launched a limited edition Greenside Up seed gift range that was not only available in various outlets and online shops. The support and encouragement I received from so many of you, not only in terms of promotion and publicity, but also from feedback and sales was tremendously heart lifting. I was thrilled that they were so successful and that so many of you bought the seed gifts for friends, family as well as yourselves and not least that the seeds grew and produced so much produce!
Selling a product as opposed to a service was a valuable learning curve and gave me a much greater appreciation and insight into the retail business. Like so many small craft business’, I designed, developed, printed and made up the products myself. That was the easy part. As the two community garden groups I was working with found, getting out there and marketing, promoting and selling our wares takes a whole new set of skills as well as a tremendous amount of time!
Irish Made Christmas Gift Ideas
We are however, blessed in Ireland to be surrounded by hardworking people who continually create wonderful products and crafts that can enrich our lives – we just need to support them. Guaranteed Irish undertook some research in 2013 and found that if families spent €4 a week more on Irish products, the country would be able to create over 6,000 jobs. Imagine the change in people’s lives!
With that in mind, if you’re looking for ideas to help you find Irish made Christmas gifts for friends and loved ones over the coming weeks, here’s my own favourite Top Ten Irish made items, any one of which I’d love to see under my Christmas tree, and all fairly local to me.
In no particular order of preference:
Purity Belle Antique Candle
1. Purity Belle Candles
I’m loving the ethos behind the Purity Bell range of candles available from their website. The candles are made from non GM soy wax, no palm oil is used and Cliona specialises in making them in recycled containers. Just look at these beautiful tea-cup candles. As a result of spotting these I’m constantly on the lookout in charity shops for china tea cups to drink my tea out of but I think Cliona has beaten me to them all!
2. Zwartbles Rugs & Yarn
I’m currently knitting away, making Christmas gifts with wool from the adorable black Zwartbles sheep that graze in close by Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny.
I was aware that Roisin Markham from Wexford makes, among other things, exquisite textile art but it wasn’t until I saw her stunning display at the Wexford Heritage Park that I realised how beautiful textiles can be when highlighted in frames. This image is my personal favourite but there are several more. If you’re interested in purchasing one of Roisin’s pieces or finding more of her art, contact her directly firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Martin Marley Ceramics
5. Martin Marley Ceramics
I blogged about the moment I was prompted to buy an exquisite ceramic bowl made by Martin Marley at a pop up shop in Carlow last year. I haven’t tired of holding it or running my finger around its soft surface. If you’d like to see more of Martins work, contact him at Kilgraney House for details of stockists.
Klaus Hartmann Pottery
6. Klaus Hartmann Pottery
Klaus’ pottery is designed and fired in both modern and traditional kilns from his home. He has several pieces in his range, including cane toppers and plant markers for the garden, but for indoors I’m especially fond of his candle centre pieces.
Klaus and Heike (see below) will be exhibiting their wares at the National Craft Fare at the RDS on the 4th to the 8th December.
7. Basketry from Baunafea Willow Works
Heike Kahle’s willow work is well-known in the south-east and her basketwork is grown and handmade just two miles from my home. I’d be hard pressed to choose between any of her products as they are all extraordinarily beautiful and I’ve seen first hand the love and care that goes into making each and every piece.
Klaus & Heike are regulars at Kilkenny Farmers market on Thursdays if you’d like to see more of their work.
Siobhan Jordan Art
8. Siobhan Jordan Art
The walls in our home are for hanging pictures and art and it’s just as well as Siobhan Jordan is another favourite artist of mine! I’m entranced by her quirky and fun yet unusual and detailed prints.
Bramble Cottage Forge create bespoke pieces forged from iron and steel in nearby Castlecomer. I’m loving this bottle opener available from their Etsy Store – one item that’s a must in every household at Christmas!
Printed in 2011 Jane’s book hasn’t lost it’s edge. Insightful messages coupled with beautiful imagery of this ancient isle we live on would make this book top on my wish list.
It was difficult to choose just ten items for this post, there are so many beautiful products out there. I haven’t been sponsored or paid to recommend them to you but chose them for my own love of the products and that they all come from local friends, neighbours or business’ I’ve come across over the past couple of years.
Will you be making an extra effort to support and shop Irish this Christmas?
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