Keeping the art of glass making alive in Tyrone

A Dungannon craftsman will see his creations showcased at a major awards gala in Mid Ulster next week.

Gary Currie has produced the winners’ pieces for the Belle of Mid Ulster event, which has seen heats taking place at local venues over recent weeks and months, and will be in attendance at the glittering ceremony next Thursday night in Cookstown’s Royal Hotel.

Gary’s studio, Dun Ri Glassware, started life a few years ago as a way of preserving the tradition of glass blowing in the area famous for the world renowned brand, Tyrone Crystal.

Dun Ri’s workshops in glass blowing are proving to be extremely popular with people interested in trying out the craft, who regularly travel from across the north of Ireland to have a go at creating their own unique piece of glassware.

And such is the demand for Gary’s bespoke creations that he has even finalised a deal to produce around 90 pieces of giftware for the annual Irish Dancing Teachers’ Convention in Cavan later this year.

Gary recently also welcomed Co Tyrone photographer, John O’Neill, who worked as a master craftsman in Tyrone Crystal for over 17 years, to sample the Dun Ri Glassware experience.

 

 

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Gary Currie at work in his Dun Ri Glassware Studio outside Dungannon. Photo by John O’Neill, Sperrins Photography

“When the old Tyrone Crystal factory closed, it was a real blow to the area”, Gary told me.

“I saw the setting up of Dun Ri Glassware as a way of keeping the tradition of glass making alive in this part of Tyrone and thankfully, interest in our workshops and our range of products is starting to pick up.

“We are almost finished work on our new furnace, which will allow us to produce even bigger and better quality pieces of glass.”

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Former Tyrone Crystal employee, John O’Neill, closely watched by Gary Currie

You can find out more about Dun Ri Glassware on their Facebook page here or contact Gary directly on 07789134798.

A hurricane named Heidi

I’ve become one of ‘those people’.

It’s a common affliction and one which I had resisted for a long time but, maybe with the advancement of age, it has finally caught up with me.

The cause of this condition is small, chocolate brown and hyperactive, and answers to the name of ‘Heidi’.

She enjoys eating shoes, slippers, socks and blankets – basically anything that isn’t nailed down or placed on a height and out of reach.

Heidi’s arrival into our family had been talked about for the past year or more but, much like when my hubby and I discussed how we would love to be parents, it was a day we didn’t ever truly believe would happen.

For one, we were now parents of a ten year-old and an eight year-old. Our days of toilet training were over; so, too, were the sleepless nights for the most part, with the exception of when the children were ill.

We couldn’t possibly own a dog, could we? Who would take it for walks? Who would clean up after any ‘accidents’ and make sure it was fed and watered?

The answer? I would!

No, to be completely fair to the poor, put-upon husband, he does look after the new arrival very well.

And, boy, does Heidi take a lot of looking after!

Like anything which seems a good idea when it’s first talked about, owning a dog is much, much harder than it looks. Yet, equally, it’s hugely rewarding, too.

Heidi is fast becoming a treasured member of our family, and just as spoiled, if not more so, than our children.

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The children absolutely adore her and, for my son, who was petrified of the four-legged fiends before Heidi came to live with us, that is one of the most beautiful benefits of all.

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And, while this may be a short-lived miracle, Heidi’s arrival has resulted in our family getting back outdoors together for walks, which is something that had been replaced by the glare of digital technology and the appeal of pre-pubescent YouTubers who were occupying God-like positions in our household.

I am well aware the novelty of having a puppy will most likely wear off, particularly for our children, but it’s one that, for now, we are all genuinely enjoying.

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If nothing else, our little chocolate brown whirlwind has made me more understanding of ‘those people’ who take comfort from animals, who can hold a full-scale conversation with a four-legged friend, and who find great joy in watching a dog chase a floorbrush like it was a mortal enemy.

Letter to my daughter

To my beautiful, amazing, strong-willed, daydreamer daughter.

I’m writing you this letter as you face what will no doubt be the first of many important and challenging moments of your life, a moment which, depending on the outcome, will determine the school you attend, the uniform you wear and, ultimately, the direction you take as you tread your path in this world.

As you take your seat in a strange classroom in a strange school on the morning of Transfer Test Day, I hope you’ll remember that the boxes you tick, and the answers you give to the questions printed on the paper in front of you, will never matter as much as you do to me.

From the moment I held you in my arms as a squawky, dark-haired, seven pound and twelve ounces little person, the only result I’ve ever wanted for you is that you are happy, healthy and fully aware of how loved you are.

Regardless of the percentage you achieve and the grade that arrives in an envelope on results day in February, the person you are can never be summed up in such simple terms.

That envelope will never be big enough to contain the joy you bring to my life as the daughter I dreamed of, nor can it explain the special place you hold as the apple of your daddy’s eye, or the partner-in-crime you will always be to your annoying but amazing little brother.

The grade you are given will never reflect your kindness to animals and younger children, your ability to sense when someone needs a hug or a helping hand, your love of music, art and singing, or your flair for fighting your corner and standing tall when you know that something is wrong or unjust.

I hope you’ll think of this letter when you need a smile, when you need to know that no matter where in this world you go, there will always be someone who loves you and is proud of you, and will defend you to the ends of the earth.

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When I sat in a seat just like yours and took a different version of the same Transfer Test a very long time ago, my dad gave me a ‘lucky stone’ to keep in my pocket for when the going got tough.

I will never be able to say for sure whether that stone did the trick or not, but it made me feel safe and appreciated, and I hope you’ll experience those same feelings when you think of the words I’ve written just for you.

Love you lots like jelly tots,

Mum xxx