We Irish are a canny lot.
Living on the edge of the wild Atlantic, we’ve learned to transform local materials into beautiful everyday objects with imagination and reverence. The reach of Irish designers is worldwide and some iconic pieces of design bear the imprint of Irish designers.
Did you know that a Clare man, John Holland, is regarded as the father of the modern submarine? Or that Dubliner, Cedric Gibbons, designed the Academy Awards Oscar statue? That the first woman in Ireland to build and fly an aircraft, Lillian Bland, was also a photographer, markswoman, martial artist, sports journalist, a smoker and no stranger to raising eyebrows?
Ireland is full of hidden design stories like these, so in partnership with libraries around the country, we're bringing their stories to life with the Local Design Hero project. Libraries around Ireland will be running one day events and mini-festivals in celebration of their local design heroes with talks, workshops and festivities.
The first sold out event – The Art of Millinery – looking at the history of hat making in Galway and the work of Philip Tracey, kicked off celebrations today at Ballybane library in Galway and will be happening again on February 4th and 11th.
New Ross Library in March will see a series of talks called The Normans and Us – a history of New Ross and the surrounding area, how Norman design can be seen today and how situations depicted in the Ros Tapestry relate to the Norman influence.
On February 21st and 28th Clare County Library hosts two half-day animation events for children, called Beneath the Waves. Inspired by John Holland, regarded as the father of the modern submarine, kids will design and create their own stop-motion animation. While in Kilfinaghty Library on March 14th and 21st, they'll have two half day sculpture events, also for children, where they'll design and make a clay submarine.
In March at Sligo Central Library, Ballymote Community Library and Tubbercurry Community Library fashion designer Rebecca Marsden will give a talk called Your Future In Fabric on how to get a foot in the door the fashion industry.
There'll be many more Local Design Hero events announced over the coming months, so keep checking the programme, and if there are any libraries who'd like to get invoved, get in touch here.
Words by Alex Calder.