Clonakilty, with its vibrant creative scene, is home to many makers, artists and craftspeople. This August, as part of Cork Craft Month 2020, the people at Green Dot – Irish Design Makers have put together a self-guided walking trail to give visitors, and locals, the chance to ‘meet the maker’ in their workshop or studio and to get a proper feel for their work. Call into Green Dot on Ashe Street to pick up your trail map and discover more about the makers involved, and the times and days that they are available to welcome you.
Green Dot is also the starting point of your tour. This lovely shop, with an in-house craft studio, is a hub for beautiful, ethically-made Irish craft and design. Upstairs you will find the second stop on the trail – Anna Groniecka Photography. Anna’s portfolio of work focuses mainly on people, relationships and helping people show their best sides.
Across the road is Stone Valley Coffee Roasters where small batches of high quality, single origin coffees are roasted in their on-site micro-roastery, and Studio 43, home to artist Kieran Bennett who works in various media such as oils, pastels, inks acrylics and watercolours to depict seascapes, streetscapes, architecture and social commentary pieces. Tucked away on the street behind is Triskel Tattoo, where Maria draws inspiration from Celtic mythology and traditional artwork from all over the world.
It might be time now for refreshment now so pop across to Clonakilty Distillery, located at the waterfront, where they make the very best Single Pot Still Irish whiskey. After this pitstop it’s time to learn about upholstery at Elle Aime on Casement Street, where Laure Mouniamy uses traditional French upholstery techniques to rejuvenate much loved sofas, dining chairs and more.
Circling around to Astna Square brings you to four new trail spots. First climb the stairs to visit Clonakilty Community Arts Centre, established in 2012 with the vision of creating a supportive network of artists by providing a friendly environment for them to work, meet and exhibit their work.
Above the Arts Centre gallery you will find two more makers: Thady Trá Photography is in the in-house darkroom – Thady uses traditional and more modern techniques in his photography and his love for, and interest in, people and life shines through in his work; and the Clonakilty School of Painting is where artist James Waller offers a range of courses for children and adults in classical painting, drawing and printmaking. James has a wide ranging practice encompassing Baroque, Byzantine and Modernist approaches to art making.
Back outdoors, you will see The Store Room Gallery & Studio of artist Aidan O’Regan who has established a reputation as a colourist of immense ability. Another artist is located at The Hill Gallery on McCurtain Hill; Pauline Walsh, who’s landscapes are inspired by the beautiful nature of this area. At the top of this hill you’ll also find Europe’s smallest Fairtrade chocolate factory – Exploding Tree. Learn how chocolate is made with bean-to-bar chocolate maker Allison and taste the results!
Any artists following the trail will appreciate The Loft Gallery & Frames, opposite the RC Church, where local artists go to get a top quality, bespoke framing service from Kate and her team. Frames are crafted here by hand, using traditional techniques, and the gallery is also a revolving exhibition space for local artists and creatives.
Next is an unusual venue – The Bike Circus is a community-run bicycle workshop that exists to educate and empower local members to learn to mend and build their own bicycles, making use of the workshop’s tool bank, spare parts library and facilitators’ training and help.
Moving on to Spiller’s Lane you come to Hot Knickers Lingerie, a bespoke service by Irish designer Ali Wheeler for clients who desire garments that flatter and fit to perfection.
You might be in need of more sustenance at this stage so, luckily, the next stop is Clonakilty Farmers Market, held every Friday from 9am-2pm in Emmett Square. There is a selection of crafts from local makers and creatives as well as hot food stalls, fresh local produce, home-baking and much more.
And to wash all that down, the final stop on the trail is Clonakilty Brewing Company, where head brewer Frank is passionate about making beer with no compromise, brewing small batches with big personality. Using locally sourced grains, the best hops and water from their own well, the beers are handcrafted with care.
You can also find the trail brochure online at https://greendotdesignshop.com/pages/clonakilty-makers-trail
Please respect the rules around COVID 19 and any practices that have been put in place by an individual maker or venue to help this be an enjoyable and safe experience for all involved!