The look of the Irish: Eight traditional designs

Best in Class: Celebrate St Patrick’s Day with our talented homegrown designers


Aisling McElwain fell in love with the tactile process of pottery on a week-long course in Kinsale. From this she was selected to attend the Design & Craft Council of Ireland's ceramic school in Thomastown, the same course that Derek Wilson, Rosemary Durr and Brid Lyons completed. Now Kilkenny-based, the ceramicist makes beautiful everyday stoneware, basalt-black vases, espresso cups, bowls and plates, pictured, €30, for a 23cm side plate, and €35 for a 25cm dinner plate, in a teal grey, available from The Blue Egg Gallwey, John Street, Wexford town and online.


Collin Harris studied sustainable engineering at Trinity College, followed by a period studying design and making at the John Makepeace-founded Parnham College in Dorset, England, considered a finishing school for furniture makers. His limited edition Schiele chair, inspired by Egon Schiele's Seated Woman with Bent Knee, is a reposing piece of art that is handmade from beech, steam-bent beach and steel, €12,000. Pictured is a far more affordable Repose, a mobile shelving unit, made from wild Irish ash and black waxed Finnish pine, €595. Harris also does a really gorgeous line in small gifts like cool napkin rings in scorched wild Irish redwood or wild Irish ash, €95 for a set of four and candle cubes, handmade from scorched wild Irish redwood and brass, €95 for a set of three.


Letterfrack graduate Warren Hayes set up Coolree Design in Clane, Co Kildare, about three years ago and while the firm makes some really smart furniture, including a rocking chair, in ash, oak, mahogany, ebony or walnut finishes that range in price from €950 to €1190, it is its home accessories where it has really carved a niche for itself. Its serving boards, from €45, desk clocks, €60, and Spun, an ash fruit bowl, €95, are all great gifts to receive but it is its Loop hooks, with leather straps and in circular or rectangular shapes, available in five different finishes, €30, that you will buy for yourself to bring colour into bathrooms and kitchens.


Alan Meredith's vessels are deliciously covetable and wowed visitors to Maison et Objet last January. The Mountmellick-based maker, who has a background in architecture, tortures wood, blackening it and steaming it to bend it beautifully to his will. The resulting forms, Dearcán, a diptych of bleached oak finished with white oil, 30cm high, €1,320, and Ebonised triptych, a trio of turned wood vessels; textured and blackened, 35cm high, €1,775, form part of Surface Matters, an exhibition of works from Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Portfolio; Critical selection 2019-2020, that runs at the Coach House Dublin Castle until May 19th. Pictured is Dearcán, €225, and Fumed Altered Vessel, €580, that sits with the other brands shown at Maison by DCCOI; Rathbornes 1488 classic two-wick candle, €36 and a blanket by John Hanly & Co.



In terms of blankets there are several Irish mills that are names to note: Foxford, in Co Mayo; Studio Donegal in Kilcar; and John Hanley in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Wild Cocoon is a less-established brand and another Co Mayo creation. Its Hillside Walks blanket, €340, from The Irish Design Shop, is inspired by the flat, boglands of the northwest of the county, where beautiful heather and mosses cling to the mountains in wonderful earthy colours, says NCAD graduate Deirdre Duffy who uses 100 per cent merino wool. Her Shallow Seas blanket, same price, is inspired by the Achill Island's Atlantic Drive, "that wonderful corner where Keem Bay comes dazzling into view on a summer's day", she explains.;;;;


Stable of Ireland is a very modern take on the Irish design offer. The brand and very browsable shop of the same name in Dublin’s Westbury Mall was set up by former model Sonia Reynolds and her business partner Frances Duff. The shop sells gorgeous blankets, some leather trimmed and super covetable herringbone tweed scarves but its linens are one of its most unique offers. It sells basketweave blankets, €250, and interior designer Maria MacVeigh, whose work is pictured, is a big fan. It offers weight to a bed without overheating. Actress and icon Isabella Rossellini uses them as tablecloths apparently; cushions, €90 each, napkins, €20 each, in shades redolent of the landscape.

Lightweight linen hammam towels, pictured, €40 for a hand towel and €120 for a bath sheet, wick away moisture far faster than cotton and can double as a sarong on the beach.


Lead crystal has a long heritage in Ireland with its centre in Co Waterford where J Hill's Standard, named after a pioneer in its production, John Hill, who came to Ireland in 1783 with a deep knowledge of the making process. This firm, set up by in Anike Tyrrell, completely rewrote the style book and has inspired another, the Deise-based brand, to reimagine its offering to appeal to an altogether more polished and contemporary crowd. Cló is the new collection by Criostal Na Rinne, based in Rinne, on the peninsula of the same name south of Dungarvan. Its decanter, €250, and matching tumblers, available in three different cuts, cost €85 each.;


Mourne Textiles stylish range of placemats, €99, and coasters, €28, both for a set of four, styled here to resemble napkins, are made from its signature Mourne Check, a truly timeless design woven in exactly the same way and on the same looms that innovators Robin Day and Terence Conran fell in love with in the 1950s. The fabric interweaves a durable mix of wool, cotton and linen, is edged with a natural fringe and has a classic mid-century feel. Its Milano rug, from about €3,077 for a 120 x 180cm size, uses three different yarn types to create its textured surface, is now also being made as a wall hanging featuring local rare breed fleeces. Sizes start from 40cm by 60cm and from about €873.