Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It was my last day attending 'Showcase Ireland' held in Dublin last January. Hurriedly I made my way through the RDS . Walking a straight line is nigh on impossible for me. One almost needs to wear blinkers to make it through ! This , however is not a bad thing as the 'Creative Island' is a veritable feast for the senses.
One of the hidden gems in this treasure trove was a company named 'Unicorn'. The founder and designer, Sophie Rieu was born and raised in France and now resides in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Wicklow is also known as the 'Garden of Ireland' . I stopped to chat with Sophie and learn the lovely story about her designs.

Sophie was born and raised in Volvic, France. Volvic is located in the Masif Central region, (South Central France). In 1994 she moved to Ireland working as an au pair for an Irish family for ten months. An English and history degree followed and from 1994-1996, Sophie studied journalism which led to a career in public relations for Patricia McKenna, MEP for the Green Party.
Sophie's love was fashion and not surprisingly she studied Fashion Design at Grafton Academy for another 6 years or so.

I asked Sophie if this was something she always wanted to do and if she was influenced by anyone. Her answer was not surprising as most people who pursue their passions tend to have been doing it somewhere from the ages of 8 - 14 years of age. Sophie knitted as a teenager, making dolls clothes and clothing for herself. I suppose it was only a matter of time before her love became a career.

Sophie and I had one thing in common, ( actually we had a lot in common) both of us learned a lot from our grandmothers and great grandmothers. Sophie's great grandmother 'Marguerite' is the inspiration for one of her pieces. Her love of fabric and accessories shine through in this beautiful piece. A time to be a lady.

The brand 'Unicorn' is a label with a conscience, using natural fibers. Donegal and Kerry Tweeds are used as these manufacturers use yarns from sheep bred in Tipperary. These magnificent pieces of art are then lined with silk.

Is it any wonder the Crafts Council of Ireland selected 'Unicorn' to be featured on the 'Creative Island'. If you are a buyer and are looking for unusual, classy pieces for your customers then a visit to 'Showcase Ireland' and to 'Unicorn' is a must.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Cork City, Ireland's 2nd City and my home plays host to Her Majesty the Queen on Friday May 20th 2011. Although I am many many miles away from home living over here in the United States, I am brimming with pride, bursting with joy and so incredibly happy for the people in Cork. The Queen will visit the historical 'English Market' located in the heart of the city. Doors opened to this market over 223 years ago in 1788.
During my final year in school, I attended a school in Washington Street Cork, known then as Doctor Paye's and every day I walked along the Grand Parade, through the doors of the 'English Market' to use it as a shortcut to get to Oliver Plunkett Street. I have to admit, there were days when the smell of the fish just made me move a little faster. Stalls were brimming with fresh produce, fresh eggs, butcher's counters , breads, poultry , home made sausages and cheeses. This was, as I mentioned, an everyday occurrence , so the word 'Foodie' was never uttered. It didn't even exist back then. No, indeed, this was the norm !

Last June, I revisited and spent the afternoon browsing, smelling and sampling. What a difference a decade makes......oh ok then a few decades make ! I ate lunch upstairs in the famous 'Farmgate Restaurant' . One thing I always notice and indeed miss when I return home for a visit is the incredible vibrancy in Cork City. The streets are always busy, and on this day the English Market was equally as busy. You know that lovely sound of people chatting, bustling, vendors calling out...life is simply happening.

The Queen will tour this historic place and be presented with a basket filled with goodies from the 'English Market'. Would you like to know whats in the basket.................?