It’s unlikely that Castleisland has ever had a serious potter of its own.
One who made pots and plates and jugs and mugs for the people of the locality.
The nearest we’ve ever had were ‘earthenware merchants’ Thomas Kearney and John Riordan both on Main Street in the late 1880s.
They may well have been potters themselves but they were, most likely, merchants for the merchandise of others.
What’s in a name ? Potters are often referred to nowadays as ceramicists and a practitioner of that class of craft and talent launched her own studio / shop at No. 94 Main Street, Castleisland on Monday morning, August 10th 2020 at 10am.
After her first week of trading in the new shop, Delia is delighted with the warmth of the welcome she got from fellow and neighbouring business people in the town.
She’s also taken aback with the level of business she’s been doing in terms of straight sales from stock and from orders received during the week.
“With the exception of the ceramic jewellery and some hand built pieces, I wheel throw most of my work in the traditional way. And I’m very much influenced by the Kerry landscape,” said Delia O’Donoghue the Cullen, North Cork native and Castleisland resident and now the town’s first potter of the 21st century.
“I like to use or reuse things that are around me – or waste products, eg. ashes, wild flowers in my work.
“The Main Street shop/studio will be an outlet and a base for my work and, hopefully, when I can do it safely I will also be offering classes for both children and adults in pottery, design, drawing and print making.
“I will also be selling work in the shop by other crafters and artisans including: Handmade journals by Diggy’s Journals, Killorglin; Crochet by Kelly St John, Listowel; Handmade soaps by Ibu Botanicals, Ballybunion; Handcrafted wooden pieces by Denis Lane, Ballybunion and by The Old Raven Wood shop, Glenbeigh.
Finding herself out of a job when the most recent recession hit its depths over a decade ago, Delia thought it’s time she went after one of her long held ambitions of training in a branch of the arts.
She was busily raising her two children and keeping down an office job until the economy took that remarkable nose-dive.
“I’ve always had an interest in arts and crafts and studied art to leaving cert in Milllstreet Community School,” said Delia.
“Though I worked in the area of book keeping for going on 20 years, during that time I was still drawn to art and crafts and attempted various projects as pastimes.
“I began to make jewellery and figurines from polymer clay and, as time went by, I got better at it and loved being able to manipulate and sculpt the clay into whatever I wanted.
When the recession fully kicked in and I went from full time office hours to part time and then none, I decided that this would be as good a time as any to try my hand at getting formal training in arts and crafts.
“I started by doing a portfolio preparation course in Kerry College of Further Education and then went on to study in Limerick School of Art and Design, receiving my degree in ceramics and design in June 2018.
“Throughout my time in college my themes tended to be around nature and the Kerry landscape and my final year was no different as I chose to base my project and subsequent pieces around the Skellig Islands.
“George Bernard Shaw referred to Skellig Michael as the most fantastic and impossible rock in the world in a letter he penned in 1910 and that still holds true today in my opinion.
“As I researched the literature and archaeological finds from the Skelligs, the one thing that I kept coming back to was the monks’ ability to use their limited resources to survive on this impossible rock.
“I decided to incorporate this mentality into my work, using what I could around me to glaze and decorate my pieces.
“I researched pottery glazes and found that in Japan and China rice husk ash was used in the making of the glaze as it has a really high silica content and this is the glass former in most glazes.
“There isn’t an abundance of paddy fields in Ireland so I decided to try using the husks of oats instead.
“The designs and shapes including the concentric circles on the pottery were influenced by the Skelligs and archaeological finds there,” Delia concluded.
Delia’s pieces start from €12 upwards.
And, while she has her own distinctive style of work, she will gladly accommodate anyone who has a design in mind for a once-off piece for a gift or special occasion presentation.
Delia’s Pottery Studio / Delia O’Donoghue Ceramics can be contacted on: 086 159 47 88.
You’ll find her a couple of doors on the Cordal side of Mary Shanahan’s Le Femme Boutique.
The signage for the window and the fascia are coming during the week as is a website.
There’s the omni-present sanitising station at the door.
Do your hands, wear your mask, drop in and wish her well.