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Irish crafts and Irish artisan foods are bedfellows.

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Many years ago, a visit to Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto in Turin showed us a simple truth: food artisans throughout the world are all alike.
We were vouchsaved an equally precious insight when writing and researching Ireland The Best: Ireland’s crafts people are exactly like Ireland’s food artisans.
The wood turners, the weavers, the jewellers, the knife makers, all share a sensibilty with food artisans and, if we had to summarise it in one word, it would be: Respect.
Crafts people have respect for their materials, and for their process. Most importantly, they also have respect for themselves, and a sense of the true value of their work.
It is these qualities that make their work precious. In the IKEA age, when you can buy anything at a bargain price, you might ask why you should pay for a hand-made object.
The answer is because the IKEA piece is commonplace, whilst the craft piece is precious.
There are many craft studios that you can visit when travelling though Ireland, but for us one of the most memorable amongst our researches was a visit to the Holden Leatherworks studio, right across the bay from the pretty town of Dingle.
There is a Holden shop in the town itself but, to really understand the artistry of what Conor Holden and his team produce, we suggest you take the Slea Head drive out of town to the workshop and showroom. It is beautifully sited at the water’s edge, and the array of Mr Holden’s work will take your breath away. It’s also remarkable, in the modern age, to see a workshop without a computer screen but then, the skill set of Mr Holden and his team far pre-dates the modern era: this is an ancient craft.

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