In House: From making music in Manhattan to carving spoons in Clonakilty

Tadhg Peelo works by hand with cherry, hazel, apple, sycamore, ash, beech and birch

Handcarved utensils by Tadhg Peelo made from cherry, hazel, apple, sycamore, ash, beech and birch.

Staycations are in full swing and for those in search of something lovely for the home while away from it, there are always galleries to visit. 
Anyone within reach of Clogherhead, Co Louth over the summer break might find just what they need on Main Street at The Mews Art Gallery, a pop-up just opened by Jennifer McCrea. It features all Irish artists and makers with paintings, prints, ceramics and more. 
If your holiday is behind you though, there are always creatives online to look to for inspiration.
Tadhg Peelo, who worked as a freelance musician found he had time to draw breath when the music industry stopped abruptly in early 2020.While volunteering on farms in upstate New York and Vermont he became obsessed with spoon carving.

“ There is such joy in taking a little piece of scrap wood and making it into something useful and beautiful,” he says.

Last summer, he moved to Clonakilty, Co Cork, to work on a farm and just before Christmas he began selling wooden utensils. He renovated a cabin and still lives there, working part-time on the farm to cover his rent and carving as much as possible.

“ I’m truly in awe of wood. It is a magical material to work with. I love that every piece of material is sustainably and locally sourced.”


He works with cherry, hazel, apple, sycamore, ash, beech and birch, making spoons, serves, butter knives and sourdough wands.

"I love that I carve my spoons without the need for machines or electricity. All the work is done with an axe and a knife," he says. "I will continue to carve spoons when things 'return to normal'."

Child’s play

Children paddling, oil on canvas by Aideen Monaghan.

The work of visual artist Aideen Monaghan, based in Athenry, Co Galway, has evolved through the pandemic, she says. A past winner of the Taylor Award for Fine Art and the Revenue Commissioners’ Purchase Prize, Monaghan studied Art and Design in Limerick IT and has exhibited in Ireland, France and the US. She had been teaching quite a bit but over lockdown, she says, she’s had the time to focus more on her painting. She’s interested now in “the ordinary everyday details of life”, particularly the lives of her children.

“I have found great comfort in their resilience and their ability to find fun in life,” she says.

The children are oblivious to me as they amuse themselves at the beach and in the playground. This informality gives the artwork a sensitive atmosphere."

Art deco homeware

Swallows Wheel cushions 50x50cm on shimmer velvet by Karen Bell.

Art deco and the natural world are two of interior architect Karen Bell’s passions. A graduate of TU Dublin, she produces statement pieces working with colour and texture and has a range of sumptuous cushions and throw pillows.

Her latest collection of cushions features swooping swallows inspired by the birds’ ducking and diving in Howth Head and the Bull Wall during last year’s fine summer and are made from shimmer velvet, linen and cotton. They are designed in Dublin and ethically printed and handmade in Donegal using eco-friendly pigmentation. Bell says her cushions also represent her ongoing fascination with the fabulous colours and textures of oriental art as well as the exquisite patterns displayed in nature on Irish terrain and by the sea.

Bespoke wallpapers and other homewares are in the planning for Bell, who has been accepted to join Design Ireland 2021/22.

"My focus is on producing home decor pieces that enhance our living, working and dreaming spaces," she says.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist