Ursa Minor in Ballycastle was launched as the fourth ÉCONOMUSÉE in the United Kingdom on Thursday 13th April 2017. Guest speakers included John and Sally McKenna; the faces behind guides.ie and McKenna’s Guides and Graham Thompson, Chief Executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust and lead partner of the Économusée Craft Reach project in N.Ireland. Graham commented: “I am delighted to see the launch of the fourth ÉCONOMUSÉE workshop. We are pleased to welcome Ursa Minor to the ÉCONOMUSÉE network in Northern Ireland”.

Ursa Minor is run by husband and wife team Dara and Ciara O’hArtghaile. They first discovered delights like sourdough loaves and friands while living for a year in New Zealand. They returned home to Ballycastle determined to keep those tastes alive. Inspired by New Zealand’s café culture, the duo set about bringing fresh, seasonal bread and sweet bakes to Northern Ireland’s north coast.

The duo founded Ursa Minor in 2014, producing small batches of hand-crafted bread and patisserie.  The bakehouse is a lifestyle business for the couple, involving extended family and the local community. Keen to keep the business on a sustainable scale, the finished products have very low transport miles and are exclusively available in this area of the north coast.

ÉCONOMUSÉE, (Artisans at Work) is a concept that was developed in Québec and involves partners from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  There are currently 70 ÉCONOMUSÉE workshops across these 8 countries with an additional 20 to be launched by March 2018.  Phase III of the ÉCONOMUSÉE project began in April 2015 and is funded by Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic Area Programme 2014-2020

Within N.Ireland there are currently six ÉCONOMUSÉE workshops; Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil in Limavady, Scullion Hurls in Loughgiel, Steenson’s Jewellers in Glenarm, Hillstown Brewery in Ahoghill, Ursa Minor Bakehouse and Broughgammon Farm in Ballycastle.  Each workshop is situated on or close by the famous Causeway Coastal Route making it an ideal craft trail for visitors.

By visiting each of the ÉCONOMUSÉE artisan workshops, tourists and visitors will gain an enhanced experience, learn about the history of the craft and the business, the enthusiasm of the artist 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.

Each ÉCONOMUSÉE artisan has their own story to share; this is illustrated with storyboards, carefully mapped throughout the workshops to capture the journey, the history, craft and skill of the artist.

Dara and Ciara O’hArtghaile added “It’s fantastic to join the amazing ÉCONOMUSÉE network of artisans, we are honoured to be counted among a group of pioneering craftspeople across the world. We look forward to creating working relationships with the artisans, as well as welcoming groups into our bakery and spreading the word about sourdough bread”.

Special thanks to Northern Periphery & Arctic Area Programme, SEUPB, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Tourism NI, Heritage Lottery Fund and BTS Concept Store.

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