Two local artisans recently returned from the first international meeting of the EU-funded ÉCONOMUSÉE Network, held in Quebec. As part of a 40-strong European delegation of craft businesses, Leona Kane, proprietor of Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady and Micheal Scullion proprietor of Scullion Hurls in Loughgiel had the opportunity to study a range of Canadian artisans and their workshops across the Quebec Province. They are joining Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery Galgorm, to form an ÉCONOMUSÉE network across Northern Ireland. Marion Woodburn was launched as the 1st ÉCONOMUSÉE in the UK in February 2011 by Minister Arlene Foster.
The Norwegian-led EU-funded project, with partners from Greenland, Iceland, Sweden, the Faroe Islands and The Republic of Ireland work with Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to give local skilled craft businesses extra insight into how best to present their high quality products. The Interreg Northern Periphery Programme project builds on a Quebec Idea called ÉCONOMUSÉE. First established in Québec, the ÉCONOMUSÉE initiative began in 1992 to support local craft businesses, create employment in the local area and preserve skills and traditions. The Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust has been leading on this new concept in the UK.
The ÉCONOMUSÉE will ultimately enhance the unique heritage of the Causeway Coast and Glens area, by showcasing the traditional skills of our local craftsmen and women.
Scullion Hurls, located in the picturesque rural village of Loughgiel, is a family run business, which began as a hobby in 1979 by Joe Scullion. Joe would have fashioned hurls for himself and other players on the local club team, the Loughgiel Shamrocks. The hurls are handcrafted using the finest ash.
Broighter Gold, located on the foothills of the stunning Binevenagh Mountain, has just joined the ÉCONOMUSÉE network in Northern Ireland. Grown and harvested on the family farm in Limavady, Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil is possibly the healthiest oil you can buy, and one you can trust to make your family’s meals healthier.
The international meeting brought together almost fifty business partners from seven Northern European countries as well as representatives from the four Atlantic Provinces, British Columbia and Québec. The crafts people even found themselves ‘speed dating’ similar artisan companies to exchange experiences and try to develop possible joint products.
The trip consisted of conferences, training workshops, visits to various ÉCONOMUSÉES and the opportunity for networking between artisans from different countries. The three N.Ireland Économusée are part of the Craft International Project that is funded by the European Union under the Northern Periphery Interreg Programme. This project is breaking new ground by working so closely with a Canadian organisation within an EU initiative.
Both Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil and Scullion Hurls will be officially launched as an Économusée by the end of 2012. Together with Marion Woodburn Jewellery in Galgorm, Ballymena, they will work with a group of artisans in Galway, and Athlone, but will cooperate equally well with artisans in narrow Norwegian valleys or Icelandic fjords. By pooling expertise and high quality products with storytelling and friendly staff, the artisans will sell both over the internet and across the counter to visitors.
How can artisans associated with the Broighter Gold hoard, the All Ireland Hurling Champions or the inspirations from Slemish fail to appeal to a wide audience?