Step onto the peninsula at Islandmagee and relish the serenity of this island landscape which is steeped in cultural heritage and stories of witchcraft and demons. A land truly shaped by sea and stone. Fortunately, today the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust is launching a very different kind of craft. Heather McFadden’s jewellery studio, Gobbins Crafts, will become the eleventh Économusée workshop in Northern Ireland.
After graduating from Art College in the 1980s, Heather McFadden specialised in goldsmithing to combine her love of sculpture and working with metals. She started out designing and creating commissions, wedding, and engagement rings, crafting beautiful pieces for clients who wanted something unique.
The workshop which offers classes in the art of jewellery-making joins the elite network of food and craft artisans who open their doors to visitors and tourists to share the story of their journey and acquired knowledge, skill, and passion.
Guest speakers at the launch included Carl-Éric Guertin, Director of the Économusée Network Society in Quebec, Martin Graham, Tourism NI, Ciaran Doherty, Tourism Ireland, Cllr Peter Johnston Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Graham Thompson, Chief Executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust and lead partner of the Économusée Artisan at Work project in N. Ireland.
Graham commented: “In a difficult year when many businesses have struggled to survive, it is encouraging to see the network grow and Heather’s workshop brings yet another diverse and unique authenticity to this network of Économusée businesses. We are delighted to welcome Gobbins Crafts to the Économusée network in Northern Ireland.”
Tiérna Mullan, CCGHT project officer said “By visiting Économusée workshops, visitors will gain an enhanced experience; learn about the history of the craft and the business; the enthusiasm of the artisan along with the added opportunity of meeting the artisans face to face and discovering the beauty and authenticity of the products made and sold onsite. We are thankful to our partners in Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and Tourism NI who have continued to support and enable us to expand the Économusée network in the area”.
Heather added: ‘Whilst the current restrictions prevented me from accommodating you today in person at my workshop, I welcome you virtually. I hope for a brighter future when you can visit my studio to see me at work and hear my story.
I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome into the network and I look forward to growing with you and sharing my skills and knowledge.
As part of my commitment to the Économusée network I will offer visitors pre-booked jewellery making classes and tours of the workshop where they will see the storyboards which tell the history of the area and my personal journey.”
Économusée Artisans at Work is a concept that was developed in Québec and involves partners from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Haiti, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Within Northern Ireland the other ten Économusée workshops are; Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady, Scullion Hurls in Loughgiel, Steenson’s Jewellers in Glenarm, Hillstown Brewery in Ahoghill, Hot Milk Forge in Martinstown and Ursa Minor Bakehouse, Broughgammon Farm, North Coast Smokehouse in Ballycastle, Audrey Kyle Arts in Islandmagee and the Creamery Can in Glarryford. Each workshop is situated on or close by the famous Causeway Coastal Route making it an ideal craft trail for visitors.
For more information on the Économusée network contact firstname.lastname@example.org/07595413239 or visit www.economusees.com