A small shop bursting with creativity

If you don’t have the time to travel the coast of our Wild Atlantic Way or visit our long lost Nordic cousins in the North, there’s a new shop in Clonakilty that brings the visions and imaginations of our shores and beyond to Clonakilty. 

Opened this summer, Wild Atlantic Designs is a unique collection of jewellery, ceramics, art, design, candles and more. Bringing it altogether has been a project that has inspired travel and life changes for the owner, Lorraine Cahalane, a Clonakilty native. Like many from West Cork, Lorraine has worked at the highest levels in communications and financial software. With years of running projects and managing teams, she has now brought her experience and skills to creating a collection of some of Ireland’s most interesting up and coming designers. As well as a bit of ‘Scandi’ thrown in for good measure. 

“I always had and eye for design and art,” Lorraine says. “It was something that was missing from my previous career. So I set out with my son, Joseph, in a camper van and we toured Ireland’s coast in search of magic. Leaving the ‘rat-race’ and spending more time with Joseph has been a really important part of this journey and the reason I wanted to change the way I was working and living. I hope it inspires him as he grows older.”

Who doesn’t dream at times of setting off on adventures and finding treasures? 

“I met so many interesting people. There is a real surge in creativity in Ireland and that is what I wanted to bring together under one roof.”

From Galway, there are handcrafted ceramics crafted by Rachel Webb. A designer in charge of her own talents and possessed with a particular vision, her pieces evoke a quirky and curious communication with the sea and the ever-changing colours that play out there in the waves. 

On the wall, a stand of trees floats mid canvas against an ethereal green background and anchored as if by golden roots. Catherine Duggan, from Cork, not only creates these surreal landscapes but also sensuous seascapes where the ocean dissolves in waves against the soft shore. 

It is a shop to wander around slowly, to touch and feel textures, to enjoy the aroma of candles – salted driftwood pieces – and butterflies caught in mid-flight – a wonder of here and there of jewellery and craft for special occasions, special places, or special ones. 

Pieces by Dublin based jeweller, Maureen Lynch, inspired by the Atlantic are simple, elemental, universal. There are soft curves, hidden hollows and glints of reflected light. 

The display of Nuala Lynch contemporary jewellery is a study in how our designers are embracing the modern, weaving in the environment, and forging a new Irish vernacular into our cultural inheritance.. Intelligence, beauty and a certain boldness inform her handmade pieces. 

As well as Ireland, there are selected pieces from the Nääsgränsgården collection – from Skene in Sweden. This collective brings together the best designers from a particular part of Sweden, near Gothenburg. They make original Swedish designs available to many people by using their knowledge of how to achieve high quality at a good price. It is perhaps a template for what Lorraine is trying to achieve here in Clonakilty. Irish design, affordable, beautiful – and modern. 

And this. Hairy Fruit Art by Helen Magee. Prints inspired by memories of childhood family road trips around Ireland with a retro art twist. Magical scenes inspired by Helen’s own odyssey around Ireland in a VW camper van. A synchronicity at work and at home on the walls here now. 

Her favourite piece in the shop? “Not a piece – more the work my father, Dan, put into it to help me open the shop.”

Sometimes, graft is as important as craft. 

“My mum, Eileen, and Dad have been amazingly supportive to myself and Joseph since we returned to Ireland.” 

Coming up to Christmas, Lorraine will be doing her bit to give back by holding a raffle for a hamper on December 8 in aid of Cork Mental Health. On December 20, 21 and 22, she will be raffling more hampers in aid of West Cork Animal Welfare. 

Wild Atlantic Designs – Pearse Street, Clonakilty Tel: 087 4519512

Mary O'Brien

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