Meet the makers
Get ready to meet the makers at Ballinahown Eco-Craft Village, on the outskirts of Athlone, at a series of events in April and May. Each weekend you get to mingle with the craftspeople and, in some cases, participate in the creative process.
Cermaicist Jane Walsh, a National College of Art & Design graduate, will be there from 11am to 4pm next Saturday for private consultations. Under her label, Button Studio, she traps buttons and other items of sentimental value in resin, turning them into pieces of jewellery such as necklaces, rings and brooches (see below). She also preserves daisies from her own garden in this durable aspic. If you don’t have something to give her, you can choose from her own collection of thousands of buttons.
If a loved one is celebrating a milestone birthday, a wedding or engagement, sign up for Patricia Gibney’s card masterclass on May 4th. The adult class will take place at 11.30am.
Gibney is also a self-published author. In 2011 she wrote and illustrated Spring Sprong Sally , a large-format book, suited to pre-school kids, that is available to buy in the craft village and online at springsprongsally.com. Kids aged from four to six years can exercise their artistic bent at her Spring Sprong Sally class, which starts at 12.30pm on the same day. Materials are supplied so you can just drop in.
On May 18th, Celtic Roots Studio is running a wish stone making class. You select your preferred organic piece of ancient Irish bogwood and carve and sand it, imbuing it with wishes and sentiment as you work. A message can then be lasered onto the wood.The wishstones cost €25.
Afterwards, repair to the Tea Rooms, (0906-430835) for home-made soup, chowder or a hot lunch such as beef lasagne, beef stroganoff or quiche.
Or why not make a weekend of it? A one-night B&B and one-dinner stay on May 18th for a family of two adults and two children at the nearby Hudson Bay Hotel (0906-442000, hudsonbayhotel.com) costs from €230.
Starting from the May bank holiday weekend, you can also take a replica Viking river cruise (086-262 1136, vikingtoursireland.ie) on Lough Ree with skipper Viking Mike.
A return trip, with pick-up at the hotel, costs €10 for adults, €5 for kids and €30 for a family ticket of two adults and up to four children.
For a full list of events call the Core Craft shop on 0906-430222 or see the Bespoke Designer Saturday listings at ballinahowncraftvillage.com.