Monday, September 20, 2010

Hats Off to All The Tidy Towns

I know. I know.
Most visitors to Ireland think all our towns are tidy. And, well, they are.

But once a year, there is one town that takes the cake. This fabulous tradition is laden with spirit and pride. The winner of Tidy Towns 2010 is Tallanstown in County Louth. Congratulations!

Here in the office, our creative wheels are spinning in forward motion. What about a quilt that commemorates all the effort and work that went into make Tallanstown the best tidiest little town of Ireland? We're thinking. We're thinking. Keep tuned for a Tidy Towns quilt!

"The national Tidy Towns competition is an annual competition organised by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with the support of the main sponsor SuperValu and many other agencies.

The competition involves participating areas being rated on all aspects of their local environment and prizes awarded to the best under many different categories. The overall winner is "Ireland's Tidiest Town".
" For more information visit the Tidy Town website.

I'd like to end this post with a giveaway bonanza. The first person to comment who has been to Tallanstown (honour system, people!) will receive a full year's subscription to Irish Quilting (€29.95/$52.99). And the first person to comment who LIVES within 5 miles of Tallanstown will recieve Jo Baddeley's Charmed Beginnings patchwork guide book.

And don't forget to tell us a little something about Tallanstown in your comment!

Hooray for Tallanstown! We're coming your way!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peace and Colour

Rainbows were invented in Ireland.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Creative Constellation in Cork

My satellite navigator is a true testament to the continuing improvement of Irish roads. My journey began after 10am and according to the GPS, I would be at the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) viewing the Irish Patchwork Society (IPS) National Exhibition’s Q for Quilts in time for the lunchtime tea.

With future issues’ content weighing on me and endless accounting numbers to be crunched, I stole out of the office like a kid mitching school. I began another adventure greeted with sunny skies and the usual threat of precipitation. But on this day, I found the rain playing a friendly game of pee-a-boo along the southbound lane of the M8.

There are many things to like about County Cork, the least of which is the fantastic accent. Its stereotypical “singsong” dialect goes hand in hand with the gregarious and friendly personality of Corkoians. Bigger still is the unassuming metropolitan zeal of Cork City. Surrounded by Irish countryside, urban Cork is a full bloom of its own sitting among the many flowers of in Ireland. Cork City has liveliness like no other Irish city. Its collective talent and enthusiasm creates the renowned cultural Cork. So it was a real treat to learn that the Cork branch of the IPS was hosting this year’s National Exhibition.

In a sprawling estate, the CIT, comprising state-of-the-art buildings, is a spectacular venue for showing quilts. The buildings’ angles and arches are an inspiring heyday for quilters. Well lit and airy, the atmosphere served quilts of varied size and shape better than any exhibition I have attended.

I kindly borrowed and give full credit for this above photo to Peter Cook. As for some quilt photos from these shows, don't miss them in our next October issue of Irish Quilting.

The Q for Quilts theme, interpreted by some but nonrestrictive for all, was cleverly present in some quilts. Northern Ireland quilter Irene MacWilliam, who expertly pushes the construction and meaning of quilts, tailored her black and white series for this theme. Visually and otherwise, her Q Play did not disappoint. Linda McCulkin of County Galway gave us Flying in the Queue, whimsical quilts in queue awaiting completion. Cannot every quilter relate?

Other quilts needed no theme for existence and were equally welcomed among the hangings. It didn’t take an expert eye to know that quilters of all levels were showing and yet, their presentation harmoniously appeared as one family: cousins in different sizes, types, levels and methods. I was very impressed with the organizers’ work.
At the exhibit, I was greeted by, double the talent, Kitty Whelan and Ursula Dale seen above.
Inside Scoop: Ursula's Ballyhooly Quilt appears in our next issue. See it in October!

Individual triumphant was clear with many of the quilts. One could see a sentimental purpose and/or need for creation as defined by each quilter. My favourites varied and, honestly, are hard to explain except to say they captured my eye and my interest.

Particularly of note would be Paula O’Rafferty’s submissions from the Limerick Prison, both appliqué wonders: a quilt from a male prisoner and one from a women’s group. The pieces were spectacular and intrinsically Irish. As an editor, these quilts beckon my attention and beg me to beg for more. I look forward to learning more and sharing this “quilt success within the walls” with Irish Quilting readers.

In true Cork fashion, there was more. Perfectly timed in sync, the Four Winds Textile Groups were exhibiting at the neighboring Bishopstown Library. The small, but impressive, collection displayed in the second floor of the library. For a literary junkie like myself, there is nothing better than wading through shelvings of knowledge and pleasure which ultimately leads to a room laden with textile showings!

Displayed beautifully, respectfully presented and identified, these patchwork exhibitions are inspiring to all.

Today, I am proud to be a quilter.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awash in Ireland

We are always scouting for photography potential for our quilts in Ireland. And since you're reading this blog, thus aware of Irish Quilting, then you are of course aware of Ireland, and then, well you already know that Ireland has miles and miles of photography potential.

We are a small business wishing to make a big impact. The wheels are always turning and we are always trying. Our home life is fully immersed in Irish Quilting and its quilts and photos and patterns and so on and so on. This includes the miles and miles of Ireland.

Last weekend I found myself, as usual, juggling Irish Quilting and family life. First Daughter had a birthday party to attend and second daughter, naturally, was put out of joint she was not invited. I told second daughter I would take her somewhere special. Between the packing of the quilts and the camera gear, she caught on quickly and groans began erupting. What 6yo wouldn't want to traverse Ireland in search of the perfect shot for a nine-patch quilted wonder?

Before my mouth could inform my brain, there were promises of chocolate milk and donuts--this being my olive branch I pull out every couple of months.

Early morning, one child and sunny skies--this I could manage. I set up the GPS. I keyed in New Grange, home of visual"mythical Ireland". Time arrival is 11:02. The journey was 52 minutes, plus some once you added the donut stop. More protests.

Mommy, where is this "New" place? Does it have "New" donuts?

Oh, the joys of when kids learn to read and tell time.

Does that mean we are driving until 11 o'clock nightime?

Could we please get out of the driveway without a meltdown?

Mommy, I'm starving!

As we headed down our Wicklow mountain to lower Dublin, the skies turned. The skies became ghastly dark and without warning, began pouring--no, dumping--rain water. On the M50, cars were pulling over; there was no wiper that could wipe quick enough. Rain. Rained out.

Rain is so intrinsic to Ireland, I've always wanted that perfect photograph of rain pelting down outside a quilt-adorned cottage--or anything for that matter. One day I will meet that photographer who will capture the ultimate Irish rain shot. Do you know him or her?

Typically unprepared for rain, we dashed in and back out of the bakery. A now-soggy second daughter happily clutched glazed donuts and a chocolate milk, her own slice of heaven. Yet, I dripped with defeat. While some rainbursts are momentary, these swollen skies were low and thick. They were going to stick around.

I had gone in search of the ultimate Irish scenery, was foiled by the Irish rain and was returning home awash in American comfort food. Go figure.

My daughter, now belly content and with a milk mustache and sticky fingers, immediately sensed the change in our driving direction, as I headed for our dry home.

"What about the "New" place? Will we miss it?"

Luckily for us, New Grange can wait for a sunny day. Afterall, it is as old as the stoneage.