The Tale of a Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote

Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote

Once upon a time, there was a Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote Bag. It lived happily with its owner in County Clare, and for the most part, behaved impeccably.

Cat & Mouse Fabric Zip Top Tote
Cat & Mouse Fabric Zip Top Tote

One day, the bag’s owner decided to go on a fantastic trip to the United States, to visit New York City. It’s a known fact (not false news everybody!) that Sallyann Bags love to travel, and the Cat & Mouse Bag was eagerly packed with all the necessities such an exciting trip could require.  Off it flew, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of New York City.

On a trip to a residential area of New York however, disaster struck. The Cat & Mouse Bag went missing, never to be seen again. It’s owner was gutted.

Now, I can’t begin to say that I can help in the recovery of the contents of the bag, which I am sure meant a great deal to its owner.  Losing a handbag is a nightmare, and often not for the loss of the cash and cards that were being carried (although that HURTS), but because of the personal items also in the bag. The photos, the favourite tiny toy you carried to pacify your toddler, who is now 14 and gets embarrassed if you show him the toy car in a restaurant while he’s deciding how to eat his own bodyweight in pizza, the essential sewing kit and that biro you got free from a hotel in Limerick which just happens to write the most beautifully of any pen you have ever owned. You know what I mean.

But when the Cat & Mouse Bag owner contacted me, I could at least consult one of my favourite places in my studio, my fabric store –

Creative Process
Fabrics

And – Lo! Cat & Mouse Fabric. It’s been a while since I made a Zip Top Tote, but I have just completed Cat & Mouse Bag Mark 2 –

Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote
Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote

Cat & Mouse Zip Top Tote

It’s never going to make up for the loss of Cat & Mouse Bag Mark 1, but at least has been possible to replace the bag itself. I can’t always promise to be able to do this as some fabrics cease to be available from suppliers, but in this instance I think you’ll agree there is a happy ending to this tale of travel, adventure and loss. And don’t forget, I love it when you post pictures of Sallyann Bags on their travels – post them to my Facebook page or my Instagram page so we can see where they get to.  Just be careful they don’t get lost!

Bags on their way to Chapel Lane Market
Bags on their way to Chapel Lane Market

So now I have just completed a few extra bags to add to my stock for tomorrow’s Chapel Lane Market in Ennis. It’s my last Chapel Lane Market tomorrow for a few weeks as I take a break now for a few Saturdays. I’m back again on Saturday 15 July. In the meantime, if you’re wanting a bag I now have over 15 outlets across Ireland, Italy and Scotland to help you get your essential Sallyann Bag for the Summer.
Shannon Heritage Shop, Shannon Airport
Design & Craft Studio, Charleville, Co Cork
George & Milly, Castledermot, Co Kildare
The Museum Shop, Knock Shrine, Co Mayo
Design Lodge, Lahinch, Co Clare
Moher Cottage, Liscannor, Co Clare
Stephen Pearce Pottery Shop, Shanagarry, Co Cork
Ballymaloe Shop, Ballymaloe, Shanagarry, Co Cork
O’Brien’s Crafts, Doolin, Co Clare
Leaping Lizard, Bridge Street, Westport, Co Mayo
Above & Beyond the Warehouse, Guildhall Street, Derry/Londonderry
Bastion Gallery, Bastion St, Athlone
The Corner Gallery, Moffat & Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
Covent Garden Shop, via Pietro Micca, Turin
Craft Granary, Chair, Co Tipperary
The Cheese Press, Main Street, Ennistymon, Co Clare

Cottage Garden Centre, The Hand, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare

Have a lovely few weeks, until I blog again….

 

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New Year, Preparing for Showcase 2017

Mixed Messenger Bag

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope that 2017 brings peace, happiness and gorgeous bags into your life.

January has started with a bang for me, as I am straight into preparations for Showcase 2017 at the RDS in Dublin from 22-25 January.  This is THE major trade show for craft businesses in Ireland, and retailers from across Ireland, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and the rest come to view the huge range of crafts produced in this country under one roof.  It’s a very big deal for me to be taking my bags to this event, and I am very proud to have been selected by my Local Enterprise Office to be one of their businesses on the Showcase Balcony.  This is where small, emerging businesses such as Sallyann’s Handmade Bags get to have a stall and to promote their businesses to all the buyers who attend.

LEO Showcase Exhibitors

This means I need to titivate my display, sort out my promotional materials, and most importantly of all, have examples of every single bag that I am intending to offer to retailers on my stall for viewing.  This is a lot of work, so much of last week was spent cutting fabric and denim to have everything that needs to be made, cut. The target for this week is to have the vast majority of the bags made by Friday, so that I can spend the following week getting my stand prepared and all my paperwork in order.  I hear that snigger at the back.  I know, I know.  Best laid plans and all that.  But its a target, and I’m aiming high!

I had a play with a new idea on New Year’s Day.  It had been bubbling away for a while, and then with all the soothsayers on the radio and TV in the run up to 2017, all seeming to use the phrase “2017 will be a mixed bag”, the idea crystallised.

Eh voilà! The Mixed Messenger Bag was born!

Mixed Bag
Mixed Messenger Bag – Front

Based around the plain fabrics that I have in stock, I cut different pieces from each colour that came to hand, and I was pretty chuffed with the result.  The colours all work really nicely with each other, and on this particular example, the burnt orange side and base looked really striking.

Mixed Messenger Bag
Mixed Messenger Bag – Back

I was so pleased with this style I’ve decide it should come along with me to Showcase, which is fine, but it means I now have a few extra bags to add to the cutting list.  Each of the example bags I’ve cut will be different, and a couple include a rather lovely shade of pink that I ordered in just before Christmas.  I hope to get them all photographed and will have them on my Facebook page in the run up to Showcase, with a view to adding them into the online shop here on my website from the end of January (just in time for you to drop some heavy hints for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day…)

Mixed Messenger Bag
Mixed Messenger Bag – Side

Talking of such events that are beginning to appear on the horizon, like the first primroses and daffodils, one of the earliest signs of Spring is the re-opening of Chapel Lane Market in Ennis after its brief hibernation through January. It looks like we will be re-opening on Saturday 11 February, but this has yet to be absolutely, totally, definitely confirmed.

Primroses
Primroses

For me, my list of events so far for 2017 is looking like this…

22-25 January Showcase 2017, RDS Dublin Trade Only. If you’re a retailer and would like to attend, please email me at salshandmadebags@gmail.com for an invitation.

11 February (tbc) Chapel Lane Market re-opens for 2017 season! Whoop whoop!!

14 February St Valentine’s Day

26 March Mother’s Day

12-14 May The Handmade Fair Spring event in Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, UK

15-17 September The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace Gardens, London, UK

I was wondering if it might help some of you hard pressed lovely people if I ran a wish book in the run up to events such as St Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day? If you want to pick out the bag that you like, you can let me know and I will write it down in my wish book, under your name.  You can then gently hint to your husband/boyfriend/wife/girlfriend/partner/significant other where the object of your desire is to be found, and I can make sure I have one in stock for you to avoid disappointment. Does this sound useful? Email or call me if this is something you’d like to do.

So enjoy the calmness that January brings, don’t overdo the fad diets and exercise regimes, and I will see you all very soon.  In the meantime if you would like a bag, my online shop is always open, and I ship worldwide from the fabulous little post office in Miltown Malbay. Happy New Year to you all, and for those of you in Asia, Happy New Year of the Rooster on 28 January. May a river of gold flow into your pocket.

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From the Cutting Table to the Catwalk!

Large Cross Body Bags in Green Meadow

After the excitement of my unique print arriving, it was straight to the cutting table. There is a joy in an untouched roll of fabric, but an even greater joy cutting the fabric to make the bags.

Meadow fabric on the roll
Meadow fabric on the roll

I cut a selection of small and large cross body bags and some small messenger bags.

Small Cross Body Bag in Meadow
Small Cross Body Bag in Meadow
Large Cross Body Bags in Meadow
Large Cross Body Bags in Meadow
Small Messenger Bag in Meadow
Small Messenger Bag in Meadow

These made their debut at a fashion show in Ennis, with one small messenger bag actually hitting the catwalk! It was amazing to see my bags on the catwalk, on the arms of models, looking fabulous. I was like a proud parent as I stood by the stage, taking photographs as the models strolled by showing the bags’ best sides.

Catwalk

The first big outing for the bags was in Chapel Lane Market on Saturday, when the lovely people of Ennis and Clare came over to inspect my new fabric, which I’ve called Meadow.

Meadow bags on the stall
Meadow bags on the stall

The first two bags in the Meadow fabric have long journeys ahead because both their new owners live in the United States.Ballymaloe Craft Fair_DL BROCHURE

The next stop for the bags is Ballymaloe in County Cork. I’m taking the bags to the Ballymaloe Christmas Craft Fair, where I hope to introduce the bags to a whole new audience

this Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th November.

For those of you who like to plan your Christmas craft shopping, here is the list of where I will be in the run up to Christmas this year:

19&20 November Ballymaloe Craft Fair, Ballymaloe, Co Cork

Saturday 26 November 10am – 5pm Chapel Lane Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Sunday 27 November 11am – 5pm Clare Crafts Association Christmas Craft Fair, Bunratty Castle Hotel, Bunratty, Co Clare

Friday 2 December 6-9pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Saturday 3 December 10am – 5pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Sunday 4 December 11am – 4pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Tuesday 6 December Shannon Group Charity Fashion Show, Shannon Airport, Co Clare

Friday 9 December 6-9pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Saturday 10 December 10am – 5pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Sunday 11 December 11am – 4pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Friday 16 December 5-10pm Corofin Christmas Night Market, Corofin, Co Clare

Saturday 17 December 10am – 5pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

Sunday 18 December 11am – 5pm Clare Crafts Association Christmas Craft Fair, Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare

Monday 19 – Friday 23 December 12-7pm Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis, Co Clare

And don’t forget, ifs you can’t get to any of these events, you can order online at this site by following the links to “Shop”.

Have a safe and happy run up to the festive season, and please try to shop locally when and where you can – it helps small businesses like mine to grow and create opportunities and employment!

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A little bit of publicity!

Small Messenger Bag in Funky Slate & Funky Red

It’s been a very exciting few days! The bags have had their first taste of the national media, with an article in the Irish Examiner, which you can read here.

A friend of mine and fellow stallholder, Aine Purcell, of Green Little Fingers very kindly recorded the moment I was able to show some of the Chapel Lane Market Stallholders the article, and I think you can probably tell I am a little bit excited!

And just incase that isn’t exciting enough, I’ve revamped my Etsy shop, so for those of you who prefer to shop on Etsy, take a look just here!

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Hello & (Belated) Happy New 2016!

Special Clip

In fact, given that I am somewhat tardy in my good wishes, perhaps I should go for Gong Xi Fa Cai, or 恭禧發財, which is the Mandarin for Happy New Year.  Chinese New Year is fast approaching, and the new year is the Year of the Monkey.  I happen to have been born in the Year of the Monkey, so the coming year is supposed to be particularly exciting for me.

Chinese Zodiac
Chinese Zodiac

I can start this blog post with an important sighting of a Sallyann Bag, an Old Map Small Cross Body Bag to be precise, that was spotted with its owner in Central Park, New York City, over Christmas.  Lucky bag!  It looks to be having a good time, and was reported to have performed admirably whilst in the States.

Old Map Cross Body Bag spotted in Central Park, NYC
NYC!

Don’t forget, I love to see pictures of your Sallyann bags on their travels, so if you think of it next time you are out and about, take a quick snap of your bag and I will post it here on the blog.

January is a busy time for me here in Bag Making HQ.  Although I have no markets planned until mid-February (start dropping your hints soon for Valentine’s Day gift Sallyann bags, point your husbands, partners, beaus towards sallyannsbags.ie), it is a time when I can search out new fabrics and work on new design ideas.  As you can imagine, I get some great help from my trusty Bag Making HQ sidekick, Coco…

Coco the Design Assistant
Coco the Design Assistant

She would like to think that her paws are a great help in holding pieces in place, but actually they are so big and furry they simply obscure what I am trying to achieve.  She is great company though.

My plans for my new designs involve a revamped wristlet design, and a connector within the bags which will allow you to attach your keys, or the wristlet, inside your handbag. It has meant I have been sourcing all the new little bits and pieces needed. Trying to find out the names of the components, and then realising that they often have different names depending on the supplier, can mean many fruitless searches and blind alleys.  And then of course is the anticipation as I await the deliveries!  I’m also trialling some new fabrics, which come from an exclusive French supplier.  I have been desperately resurrecting my schoolgirl French in order to work my way through the web site terms and conditions.

Special Clip
Special Clip

I promise to post as soon as these components and fabrics arrive.  I can’t wait to get working on the new designs, now that they are firmly in my head.  In March I will receive a delivery of very special fabric.  It is from a former teacher of mine, and she has very kindly given me some of the fabrics her mother had in stock.  Her mother was a talented seamstress, and all the fabrics date from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I am very excited to see all of these.  They won’t be coated fabrics – they are mainly cottons – but I am sure they will encourage me to try out some new designs when I see them.  It’ll be a new departure for Sallyann’s Handmade Bags – using vintage fabrics that aren’t jeans!

Lots of purses
Lots of purses

Whilst I have been trying out the new ideas, I have also been replenishing my stocks after the Christmas rush.  As I mentioned above, I’m not due to take part in any markets until mid-February, but my bags are stocked in various shops around Ireland, and as a result I am re-stocking a number of these shops this month and next.  In particular demand this month are my purses, which are made using oilcloth and coated cottons and the zips that are cut out of the jeans I use to line the bags. They are the ultimate in upcycled chic, and the perfect little gift for yourself in January.  This Thursday, 21st January, I will be taking a supply to the Limerick Craft Hub.  Each month I do a day in the Craft Hub, and it is a fabulous excuse to be surrounded by lots of lovely crafted goodies.  I get to talk to the public and sell people’s crafts, which is a great experience. If you are in or around Limerick and haven’t yet visited the Limerick Craft Hub, next time you are in the city, call to their shop at 9, Lower Cecil Street (on the corner of Lower Cecil Street and Henry Street), and be prepared to be blown away by the quality of the crafts on sale there.

Frosty Morning Walk
Frosty Morning Walk

So you can see I am not hibernating up here in the wilds of West Clare.  When the weather isn’t inflicting incessant, relentless rain upon me, as it did for most of November, December and a fair chunk of January, each morning I try to get out and walk the dog.  Our dog is somewhat elderly so she often lags behind and I feel like I am taking her for a drag rather than a walk, but on Thursday last week, when I took this picture, I know why I love living here, and why I get out and walk.  I hope we all have many more sunny days in the coming months, and that you are have the best of fortune in 2016, and the Year of the Monkey.

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New Destinations and an Empty Desk (temporarily)!

messenger bag, cross body bag

October is upon us and the bags are spreading their wings and migrating to new destinations.

Four new shops have recently started to stock Sallyann’s Handmade Bags, which means that they are now available in Dublin, Charleville, Shannon Airport and Doolin.  Should you be caught out by a bag-related emergency, you will now be able to find a Sallyann Bag that little bit more easily.

In Dublin, the bags are residing at the rather lovely Artists Gift Gallery at 43 Dawson Street in Dublin 2.  It is a gorgeous shop in a fantastic location, so if you are in our fair Capital City, do call in to see the bags and say hello. In Charleville, the bags are to be found in the Design & Craft Studio on the Main Street.  The shop is run by batik designer Judy Reardon, and is a goldmine of local crafts.  In Doolin, the Irish Crafts shop (and online at www.irishcraftsonline.com from 26 October) have been stocking my bags for a couple of weeks, and they look very happy in amongst the genuine Irish craft goodies stocked by the shop.

Messenger bag, cross body bag, Shannon Airport Duty Free
GlenAran’s Shop in Shannon Airport’s Duty Free area

Finally, GlenAran Irish Markets have started to stock my bags in their store in the Duty Free shop at Shannon Airport.  It has been an amazing few months working with GlenAran, to get to this stage.  Those early morning shifts in the Duty Free area talking to the customers and staff really helped to get the message out there that there are alternatives to the big brand bags on offer. Next time you’re flying through Shannon Airport, be sure to call to the GlenAran shop to see their display.

Cross Body Bags, Messenger Bags, Tote Bags
Cross Body Bags, Messenger Bags, Tote Bags

And why an empty desk? I had to have my sewing machine serviced.  I’ve had my amazing, fabulous, wonderful machine for a year now, and it desperately needed a service.  But time without my machine?  I got separation anxiety even thinking about it.  And if I sent it away by courier it might have been away for days!  I love my sewing machine very much – it has revolutionised the way I sew and the bags that I can make.  I have even been known to talk to it and stroke it.  My long-suffering husband could sense my stress levels rising about the impending separation, and volunteered to get up ridiculously early yesterday morning to make the 3 hour drive to Waterford, to the shop where the machine came from, the Singer Sewing Machine Centre in Newgate Street. He was there to see John, the owner and all round sewing machine genius, opening up the shop, and by 12pm my main machine and back up machine were both serviced and tickety-boo (that’s a technical sewing machine term, you know).  So now I can breathe again, and get sewing when I finish these blog ramblings.

Small Messenger Bag in Red Funky Fabric
Small Messenger Bag in Red Funky Fabric

And if you are ever in Waterford, and like your sewing, get yourself to the Singer Sewing Machine Shop.  Not only are the staff encyclopaedic in their knowledge, they are friendly, helpful and provide an almost bespoke fitting service of stitcher to sewing machine. They also have a giddiness-inducing array of haberdashery and sewing notions to lighten the wallet still further.

Finally, for those of you who are regular visitors to my web site, I apologise for the somewhat “work in progress” appearance that it has right now.  The online shop is hopefully going to be up and running very soon, but it is taking slightly longer than anticipated.  Your patience will be rewarded with a rather clever little online shop by the end of the month, I hope.

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Taking Stock

Cat & Mouse Fabric Zip Top Tote

It is hard to believe, but the end of August is approaching.  It has been a busy few weeks, as you can probably tell by the absence of posts recently. I was at the Limerick Show this past weekend.  I haven’t been to a county show for years, and had forgotten the fun they can be.

Calf in the stable block
A prize-winning calf is led proudly through the retail area at Limerick Show

I attended the show with Ger Guilfoyle, the jewellery genius behind LuciLu Jewellery. The retail stalls were mainly in the stable block, which meant that we had shelter in case the weather turned on us.  We set up with a display outside and our tables inside.  We then took turns to lure people inside the Stable to our web of temptations!

Stable 82
Stable 82, where my stall and that of LuciLu Jewellery were set up
My stall and that of LuciLu Jewellery
My stall and that of LuciLu Jewellery at Limerick Show

After the excitement of the Limerick Show, I am back to preparing for my final session at Shannon Airport.  This Saturday I’ll be at the GlenAran shop which is just before you go through Security, so even if you’re not flying you can come along and see me!  I made a couple of special zip top totes in the bright fabrics, so I will be bringing them, amongst others, on Saturday.  After I finish in the Airport I shall be zooming (within the speed limit, obviously) up to Chapel Lane Market in Ennis, for my first time there since the beginning of August.  It’ll be nice to be back at Chapel Lane, which is always buzzing.

Funky Red and Blue Paisley Zip Top Totes
Funky Red and Blue Paisley Zip Top Totes

Finally, I have a request to make from you all.  Driving back from Miltown Malbay yesterday I saw a white thing out the corner of my eye.  Driving back slowly to check out what it was, it turned out to be a kitten.  Now, I know I’m a sucker for cats, but I couldn’t drive by and leave her at the side of the road.  So I jumped out of the car, scooped her up, pushed her into the sleeve of my coat to keep her warm and still, and drove on.  Realising she needed more help that I could immediately offer, I rang the redoubtable Rhona, who runs An Cat Dubh cat sanctuary, near The Hand crossroads.  She immediately prepared a crate for the newly named Sasha, complete with warm bedding, food, drink and a litter tray.  On arrival Sasha was gently removed from my sleeve to be greeted by cuddles from Rhona, and a promise to help her out.  She has congested lungs, will probably lose an eye and is carrying a lot of worms.  All treatable with care, time, skill and a huge amount of tenderness. And a vet.

Sasha, just after she was found on the road
Sasha, just after she was found on the road
Please help Sasha
Sasha needs help to recover from her tough start in life

I’m auctioning off one of my bags, specially made for the winner of the auction, to raise money for Sasha’s vet bills.  All the money raised through the auction will go to An Cat Dubh.

Cat & Mouse Fabric Zip Top Tote
Cat & Mouse Fabric Zip Top Tote

The lucky auction winner can choose to have a unique bag made: cross the body, Fely, Goldilocks or Zip Top Tote – whichever they would prefer.  Bids started last night on my Facebook page, and we have reached the dizzy heights of almost €50 so far.  But I am sure that such a unique bag will be worth more to the right generous person, so please visit the page, make a bid, and share the post to get as many people to see the auction as possible.  Bids close at 8pm on Monday 31st August. Thank you!!

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Heard at the Craft Fair….

Coore cows

Craft Fairs are generally good fun.  You arrive about an hour before they are due to open to the public, set up your stall, wander around annoying the other stall holders by disturbing them whilst they are setting up, then you return to your stall in readiness for opening.There’s a bit of a buzz, excitement in the air as you get ready.  Yesterday I took the bags to the Clare Crafts Association Summer Craft Fair at the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point.  It was one of those Summer days where within an hour you got rain, sea fog and bright sunshine.  A few hardy souls were swimming and two people took a rowing boat out for a spin.  Spanish Point is my local beach where I could happily spend a few hours walking up and down the beach, swimming or surfing.  But yesterday I was grateful to be inside the hotel – the weather wasn’t my idea of beach weather.  So I was hopeful that the good people of West Clare and the many holidaymakers around at the moment would support  the event.

Spanish Point Beach
Spanish Point Beach

Which they did! We had a steady flow of visitors, who meandered happily around the 23 stalls, enjoying the huge range of crafts on display, from paintings, sculptures and ceramics to quilted items and jewellery.  What I like the most about craft fairs and markets is the immediate feedback and chat you get from people about the bags.  Some people say the most fantastic things, which make you smile for the rest of the day.  Yesterday I spoke to a lady who was sounding off about the huge prices some designers charge for handbags. She had seen some in a shop and was outraged at the high prices being charged, “so high – you’d have to sell two bullocks to pay for them!”.

Coore cows
How many Sallyann Bags for these cattle?

I’m no farmer, and don’t know the going price for a bullock, but I don’t think you’d have to sell any cattle to get your hands on one of my bags.  After all, they are just simple, well designed, useful, practical bags.  I’m not going to try to sell you a lifestyle next week.  You don’t need me to tell you what your duvet cover or your sugar bowl should look like!!

And then a lady and her daughter came over to talk to me and to look at the bags.  They liked their craft, and had clearly already bought a couple of pieces from others in the room. I was completely taken aback when she picked out a funky red Fely bag, turned to her daughter and said “That’s not a bag, that’s a work of art!”.  What an AMAZING thing to say! I was hugely flattered, and duly got all tongue-tied.  But I’m still floating 6 inches off the ground after that compliment.

Funky red & grey dandelion
Two favourite fabrics, funky red & grey dandelion

This is going to be a busy week for markets, fairs, festivals and duty free! I’m back in Shannon Airport, at the GlenAran Shop in Duty Free, on Friday 31 July from 7am, so look out for me if  you’re flying through Shannon on Friday.  On Saturday I’m at my very favourite community market, Chapel Lane Market in Ennis from 10am – 5pm. Sunday sees me return to the beautiful Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush for their  August Craft and Plant Sale, from 12-5pm.  Finally on Bank Holiday Monday I will be amongst the crowds at the amazing Kilmihil Festival of Fun. There is a craft fair in the Community Centre on there main street of this village.  For those of you yet to sample Kilmihil Festival of Fun, make this the year that you do.  The whole village lets its hair down for the weekend, with all manner of events, from tractor runs, walks, pig racing, vintage cars, sheaf throwing, turf stacking.  Then on Bank Holiday Monday there is a big parade which can be quite eye-popping.  I hope that I’ll see you at one or other of these great events this weekend, but whether I do or not, have a great Bank Holiday Weekend!

Chapel Lane
The welcome on the mat at Chapel Lane Market
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Going to Shannon Airport – and NOT flying!

Shannon pic

Every now and again, something happens which is unexpected and exciting. Such a thing happened to myself and four other craft traders from Chapel Lane Market in Ennis when we met Cheryl Acheson from GlenAran, which sells Irish crafts at stores in Killarney, Kenmare , Inishmore and Shannon Airport. They have two stores in Shannon Airport, one just before you go through Security, and one within the Duty Free Shop itself.

Shannon pic
Crafters visiting Shannon Airport

We have been given the opportunity to promote our craft directly to the public at their Shannon Airport store in Duty Free. Each Friday and Saturday one of the five of us will be at the GlenAran shop to promote our crafts, as well as demonstrating to visitors in the Duty Free area how we make our particular crafts.

The five of us taking part in this innovative and exciting event are:

Geraldine Guilfoyle – Lucilu Jewellery 
Clare Nihill – Crafty Nugz paper craft
Clare Beck – Orinoco Creative Glass
Tatjana Merzvinska – Golden Fleece felt clothing & accessories
Sallyann Marron – Sallyann’s Handmade Bags

It’s a massive vote of confidence by GlenAran in the quality of our crafts, and a hugely generous move by the company. It is a good example of a local business helping small start up businesses to gain experience in a larger market for their products.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks bags in blue paisley and funky red fabrics

GlenAran has a reputation for sourcing skilled craftspeople to supply authentic, handmade products for their stores. Their staff in stores are highly trained and many have visited the workshops of the craftspeople so that they can talk knowledgeably about the items they are selling. In preparation for our time in Shannon, GlenAran have been mentoring us through advice about display, packaging and sales techniques, which has been invaluable to all of us as recent start up businesses.

The craft promotions will start on Friday 3rd July at 7am in Shannon Airport Duty Free, and continue every Friday and Saturday throughout July and August. I’m first up (literally!) on Friday 3rd July, and will be hopefully bright eyed and bushy tailed as I set up my stall in Duty Free.  I’ve been working on a range of bags in bright, Summery colours, and I’m hoping that these will catch the air passengers’ eyes as they walk through the shopping area on the way to the departure gates. If you’re flying through Shannon Airport over the Summer on Fridays or Saturdays, be sure to call to our stalls to say hello!

This is a busy week all round, with markets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  As well as Shannon Airport on Friday, my bags will be making their regular monthly appearance at Miltown Malbay Farmers Market, hosted by SuperValu. My husband Mike will be manning the stall on Friday, so here’s hoping he gets a generous welcome from all the customers and stallholders! It is the start of the world famous Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay on Saturday 4th July, and the Farmers Market will be running most days next week in SuperValu – my bags and I will be there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 8-10 July, from about 11am.

Summery bags
Bright Cross The Body Bags

Also this weekend it is the Ennis Street Festival, so there is a HUGE amount going on all over Ennis.  Chapel Lane Market is very much part of this and will be running both Saturday and Sunday.  I will be there on the Saturday, from 10am – 5pm as normal.  I really hope the weather is kind because there is so much going on around town – it is not to be missed.

Finally, on Sunday, I shall be at the very lovely Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush from 12 – 5pm.  It is their July Summer Craft Fair and Plant Sale.  The gardens are quite magical, set within high stone walls and surrounded by the wonderful Kilrush Woods.  The gardens happen to possess a coffee shop which does amazing cakes, scones, and snacks.  If you’re in West Clare and looking for a place to go, the Vandeleur Walled Gardens are the best spot. Even better, children love the space and freedom to explore the gardens, maze and super-sized chess set, follow the butterfly trail and generally tear around, and you can bring your dog in, where water bowls are provided! Who could ask for more??

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