Making a difference: Castleconnell Craft Fair showcases the best talent Ireland has to offer

CHRISTMAS came early for exhibitors and shoppers at Castleconnell Craft Fair.

CHRISTMAS came early for exhibitors and shoppers at Castleconnell Craft Fair.

The craftworkers’ bespoke pieces did a roaring trade and many Christmas presents were “wrapped” up by visitors. The longest running fair in the Mid-West had their biggest attendance since 2008 with over 2,000 descending on the Castle Oaks on Sunday and Monday.

Judy O’Hare, PRO of the craft fair committee, said the only downside of the two days was the absence of one man.

“We sadly missed Pat Dempsey, who was our great PRO. Many of the craft workers from outside Limerick hadn’t heard of his untimely passing and were expecting to see him. We had his picture on a table with a remembrance note,” said Ms O’Hare.

However, Pat would be proud at the continuing success of the event he put so much work in to.

The very best of ceramics, fine jewellery, paintings, photography, sculpture and wood-turning was on show, along with new items never seen before.

“We had 45 exhibitors with eight new ones. There was a man who made figures from wire set on wood; painted flowers and birds behind glass; wine barrels used to make candle and wine holders, and much more. It was fantastic to see the inventiveness and creativity,” said Ms O’Hare.

Seven of the 45 were from Limerick City and County including local woman Michelle Jones, who launched her range of Sidekiks - little monsters made from socks.

They fitted in perfectly with Halloween and Michelle’s unique items went down very well with the public. And she wasn’t the only one.

“The craftworkers went away very happy with the amount of purchases, orders and exposure. Everyone went home happy. Some travelled from as far as Roscommon and Mayo,” she said.

Along with new visitors and craft people they had a haunted house with a maze for children for the first time. The entire event was very well supported locally and the camogie, GAA and scouts clubs helped out.

They are three of the groups along with Care of the Aged, ACM Community Centre, Stradbally Cemetery and parish hall maintenance committees, who will benefit from the event’s success. A presentation night will be held in December.

Ms O’Hare thanked the Limerick County Enterprise Board, Castle Oaks Hotel, all the craftworkers, local organisations and everyone who turned up to help the 23rd annual Castleconnell Craft Fair beat the recession.