Fabric of village life woven into Barbara’s tapestry

Rich tapestry: Barbara Hartigan displays the Castleconnell tea towel she designed which is proving popular this year. Picture: Dave Gaynor

Rich tapestry: Barbara Hartigan displays the Castleconnell tea towel she designed which is proving popular this year. Picture: Dave Gaynor

A few tears as well as some cutlery and crockery will be dried by a tea towel designed by Barbara Hartigan. The renowned artist was inspired by the beauty of her home village of Castleconnell and how many of its sons and daughters have been forced to leave it.

The tea towel features drawings of the Castle Oaks House Hotel, Chapel Hill, Irish Harp Centre and Music School, Main and Castle Streets, Mick Mackey monument, footbridge over the Shannon, railway station, Castleconnell Boat Club and John Enright - flycasting champion of the world - who was celebrated in a recent festival.

“At the moment there are so many people away, so many have emigrated, it is a sort of recessionary effort. You wouldn’t believe the amount [of tea towels] that have gone all over the world.

“It is something nice for people to send to their sons and daughters from Castleconnell who are now away.

“I had friends staying a while back and they couldn’t even get a postcard of Castleconnell at the time they were here. I said I must get going so and do something,” said Ms Hartigan.

They say write what you know – and that must be true of artists as well judging by her wonderfully detailed tea towel.

“I absolutely love the area. There are so many different aspects to it. The fact that Castleconnell did so well in the Pride of Place competition - I think there had been a huge realisation with people of what is on their doorstep and they are very proud of Castleconnell,” said Barbara, who knew exactly what she wanted to portray.

“I wanted to reflect the historic as well as the modern side with new ones like the Mick Mackey monument and the John Enright festival,” she said.

The highly regarded artist, whose mediums include watercolours, monochrome, pastel, landscapes, figurative, still life and portraiture, got out her ruler and pen and paper for this project.

“I cut a piece of card to the exact size and scale of the tea towel. I did it in pen and ink. It took me me about a month to design it. I took a photograph of various aspects and I have a whole collection of the scenes I wanted. I moved them up and down on the card to get an overall pleasing look,” said Ms Hartigan.

The tea towel, which comes with either an orange or green border, costs justs €7. A euro from each goes to Castleconnell Care of the Aged.

Many will never dry a cup or saucer as they are being framed and hung up on walls. Ms Hartigan ordered 500 and to date has sold almost 400.

“I put it up on Facebook at the beginning and instantly I started getting responses back, such as ‘Ours arrived in Madrid from mum and dad’. There was somebody else in Holland, Finland, all over America. A person in Australia said they were checking for it every day. One man has bought nine so far to send abroad, ” said Mrs Hartigan.

The tea towels proved a bit hit during the Castleconnell Craft Fair, John Enright festival and limited number are currently available from Castleconnell Credit Union and the Castle Oaks. To get one delivered locally or globally email info@barbarahartigan.comg.

It’s an ideal Christmas present. The only concern might be that a man giving a tea towel to his wife or partner might be running a bit of a risk! That is, until she opens it and sees what it truly represents.




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