Higgins praises creativity at craft show

Mon, Jan 23, 2012, 00:00

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins yesterday joined the Crafts Council of Ireland in urging people to seize opportunities offered by the booming craft industry.

Opening Showcase 2012 – Ireland’s Creative Expoat the RDS, Mr Higgins said “post-hedge funds”people were “once again beginning to value skill and craftsmanship”.

He praised the 450 exhibitors at the expo saying they combined traditional designs with “new materials, new applications” in what was “a celebration of creativity”.

Included in the exhibition are emerging and established Irish brands from Tipperary Crystal, to design-led fashion and knitwear, jewellery, gifts and interiors.

Some 5,500 buyers are expected to attend the exhibition which runs until Wednesday, with orders expected to be worth in the region of €20 million.

It was, the President said, “a tribute to those who refused to be defeated by the economic downturn”.

After touring the exhibits he said each craft showed a respect for aesthetics and the co-ordination “between the use of one’s hands and brain”. The crafts represented “excellence that will last” and “wonderful proof of the relationship between creativity and culture”. The President also paid tribute to Frank Ryan of Enterprise Ireland and the county enterprise boards which he said had fostered a “genuine celebration” of creativity.

Irish crafts are currently enjoying something of a boom with interest surging at home and abroad after the Year of Craft designation in 2011, according to Karen Hennessy, chief executive of the crafts council.

There was “absolute demand” for Irish crafts at Christmas. People were actively seeking out Irish goods, she said.

However, she added: “We need to invest now in the Irish craft and design sector. If we hesitate we have missed the boat. Now is the time to work together in making the most of this,” she said.

She called for ongoing investment in what she said was a particularly labour-intensive area.

Among the stands on display was Heritage Hurleys where Phil Archbold was displaying a picture of US president Barack Obama wielding a hurley manufactured in Killucan, Co Westmeath.

It had been manufactured by Heritage Hurleys and presented to Mr Obama by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The words “Is feidir linn” were inscribed on the hurley. It was fortunate marketing, he said.

However, slightly miffed to have missed an opportunity was Gavin De Bruir of aviationluggage.comwho was displaying a range of leather messenger satchels and bags. “I was talking to some Germans and wondered what the crowd was – then I realised I was standing with my back to the President,” he said.

Mr Higgins who was walking, apparently without difficulty, told The Irish Timesthe operation on his knee just before Christmas had gone wonderfully well. His knee was now “better than it has been for many years”, he said. The operation was carried out in Galway – “a tribute to Galway orthopaedics” – and he was discharged on December 23rd, in time for his first family Christmas in the Áras.

“It was lovely. We had family and friends for New Year’s Eve,” he said.