Looking for a Christmas gift with a difference? Then make your way to the impressive Christmas Craft Fair located in the picturesque setting of The Haven Hotel in Dunmore East.
Since opening on Sunday November 28th, a large marquee containing stalls featuring locally crafted products has been attracting many visitors and receiving rave reviews.
And to help everyone get into the Christmas spirit, there’s plenty of mulled wine, coffee, and hot food stalls on site. The marquee is fully compliant with Covid-19 guidelines, with all stalls safely spaced out and doors kept open to provide ventilation.
But this isn’t simply another run-of-the-mill Christmas market.
The Christmas Craft Fair at The Haven Hotel represents so much more as it has become an important focal point within the area and signifies the strength and resilience of this remarkable local community.
Jayné Cahill with her display of facemasks and greeting cards. Photos: Lisa Walsh Photography.
The market was the brainchild of Jayné Cahill (www.jaynecahill.com) who works in marketing and is a graphic designer. She was inspired to embark on organising a market during our first Covid-19 lockdown.
Most of Jayné’s work dried up when all her clients’ business ground to a halt. However, she wasn’t prepared to simply sit back and lounge on the sofa!
“I don’t like sitting still so I started making face masks,” she explains. “I found several designs I liked, and I adapted them until I came up with a design which I was happy with. It has now grown into a business of its own.”
Jayné drew from her own personal experiences in striving to create a face mask that didn’t “cause me to have a complete meltdown in Tesco!”
“I’m asthmatic, and I wear glasses,” she explains. “I needed a safe face mask that gives me space to breathe and stops my glasses fogging up.”
Jayné took out her drawing board, oiled her sewing machine, and started designing. Her efforts resulted in the creation of stylish, comfortable facemasks created using 100 per cent cotton fabrics, high-quality threads, and soft elastic.
“My face masks are structured to keep the fabric away from your mouth – so you have space to breathe,” she explains. “The nose bridge ensures a snug fit so no more fogging up.”
Jayné points out that you don’t have to wear glasses to benefit from these masks.
“They feel fantastic against your skin,” she says. “And just so we have everyone covered, there are four sizes including a version for the beardy man!”
Jayné’s success with her facemasks inspired her to explore another business opportunity.
“When someone asked me if I could design a card to go with one of my masks which they were giving as a gift, my second product was born,” she explains.
“I now have a collection of greeting cards for just about every occasion. These include prints of drawings I have done of local scenes. The cards are finished using nail varnish which give a lovely colourful shimmery effect.”
Talented Jayné is delighted to be back doing something crafty again. Jokingly, she remarked that with so many masks and drawings from lockdown, she could set up a stall.
“One of my clients is The Haven Hotel, Dunmore East and I jokingly said to owner Paul Kelly that I could do with a stall on the lawns on Sundays to sell some of my masks and designs,” she explains. “He said to me ‘no problem – why not set up a market for local crafters and artists?’ …so I did! We started in June on the lawns of The Haven Hotel with only six stalls and that grew very quickly to sixteen.”
After a very successful summer and Halloween market, the Christmas Market opened on Sunday November 28th and, due to its immense success, will continue until Sunday January 2nd.
Sense of community
Fellow crafters enthusiastically came on board to participate in The Haven Hotel market including Róisín (Rosy) Bale of Rosy B Blends (https://rosybblends.com/).
Róisín (Rosy) Bale of Rosy B Blends.
Rosy creates all sorts of beautiful smelling aromatherapy products, including eco soy wax candles, positive energy mists, face mask sprays, and even a calming dog spray! She uses only the best quality essential oils and other natural ingredients. Rosy says there is “something for everyone” among her impressive array of products.
“Everything is completely natural and sustainable,” says Rosy. “We make a big effort to use eco/reusable packaging and we try to support other Irish businesses and get as many materials as possible within the country.”
Rosy initially started Rosy B Blends as a passion project after losing her father to cancer in 2018.
“Using essential oil blends played a massive role in keeping our family going on the really bad days, helping us to switch our minds off after long days in hospital waiting rooms etc.,” she explains. “I wanted to share the healing power of essential oils for dealing with stress and anxiety with as many others as possible because the results were so powerful for us.”
During the first Covid-19 lockdown, Rosy decided to set-up a website and “do all the things I never had time to do”. She had re-located to Dunmore East from Dublin with her Mam and describes the commencement of The Haven Hotel market as “perfect timing”.
“Since we moved here, the market happened, and it’s been going great. Everything has fallen into place,” she says. “I’ve received so many beautiful messages from customers telling of how the products have helped them feel better and gave them strength, especially over the tough times we have been through in the past two years.”
Rosy had been visiting Dunmore since childhood and says the village has always “felt like a home from home.”
“Dublin is so fast paced, and it can be very hard to really get to know your neighbours,” says Rosy. “We love Dunmore – it’s lovely to have such a sense of community.”
She says the opportunities provided by The Haven Hotel market really make a difference for small businesses.
“The Haven Hotel have been so generous in giving us the opportunity to showcase our products in such a magical place,” says Rosy. “They have asked for nothing in return, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to see the locals and chat with people at the summer markets and now at the Christmas markets also. It really is a special place run by a lovely family.”
Camaraderie and support
Lisa Walsh with her driftwood art and photos featuring local scenes.
Lisa Walsh (www.pebbleart.ie) had already been attending the popular Lismore Farmers & Craft Market when she became aware of plans to stage a market in Dunmore East after chatting with Rosy.
Lisa produces home décor made from driftwood salvaged from nearby coves. This activity is a passion for Lisa who treats and dries the wood before creating her high-quality products.
Also a well-known photographer, Lisa displays some of her impressive photography work at the market, including local scenes. She enjoys the variety which her combination of photography and crafting provides.
“With photography, a lot of my work involves editing on a computer so It’s nice to be outdoors and hands on,” says Lisa.
She appreciates the ‘local’ emphasis at the market and enjoys the sense of camaraderie which exists amongst crafters.
“Everyone really likes to see everyone else do well, especially when they have a sale,” she says.
Lisa is passionate about promoting all that Dunmore East and the surrounding area has to offer. She is particularly keen to highlight the diversity of attractions on offer, which includes the cliff walk and woodland trails. She believes the presence of the market at The Haven Hotel further augments Dunmore’s offering and is heartened by the feedback received from customers.
“People understand the hard work involved,” she says.
Kitty Dwyer showcases her candle oyster shells.
And hard work is something the youngest stallholder at The Haven Hotel market certainly knows all about. Kitty Dwyer of Kitty’s Krafts (www.facebook.com/kittyskraftswaterford/) makes gorgeous candle oyster shells. She collects the shells from Woodstown Beach and says there has been a great reaction among customers to her products – with many people amazed to learn that she is only in fifth class!
The young entrepreneur began her venture this time last year and has persevered throughout the pandemic in expanding her business empire.
Kitty loves engaging in conversation with customers and potential customers. She says they enjoy listening to her explain the process involved in creating her items.
Since starting with her original candle colour of aqua blue, Kitty has diversified and added specific colours for different occasions. Currently, she is selling green and red candles scented with festive spices for Christmas.
“I really want to do more,” vows Kitty. “I have lots of ideas.”
Strength to strength
Reflecting on all that has been achieved since her initial idea formed, Jayné Cahill says she is heartened by how the community in Dunmore East has come on board and supported the venture.
“A lot of crafters are getting in touch and there has been steady footfall,” she says, adding that this extra footfall into the village is also having positive knock-on effects.
Jayné says all stallholders are given an equal opportunity, and nobody is in direct competition. In fact, the market has been likened to a “community within a community”.
“Everyone is keen to help each other out,” says Jayné. “It’s a great social outlet. Some of the stallholders were nervous at the start. It’s been brilliant to see their confidence rise over the weeks.”
The stallholders are all keen to ensure the emphasis on ‘local’ is maintained as well as the reputation for quality. All note that visitors to the market appear to genuinely appreciate and value the work of the producers and the individuality of their products.
Possessing so much talent and dedication, the stallholders at The Haven Hotel market will surely continue to go from strength to strength.
The Christmas Market at The Haven Hotel is open on Sunday December 19th and Sunday January 2nd from noon until 5pm. Plans are afoot for further expansion of the market in 2022. Visit www.thehavenhotel.com/events for more information.
Pebble and Driftwood Art by Lisa – A gift for everyone
Jayné Cahill Design – Face Mask Collection; Christmas and greetings cards; and framed drawings of local scenes
Rosy B Blends – Healing Essential Oils, eco soya wax melts, candles and dog calm mist
Kitty’s Krafts – Oystershell candles Christmas gift sets
Aliandi Designs Seaglass and Copper Jewellery
Lan Anh Jewellery – Jewellery and gift sets
The Pet Stop Dunmore – Organic dog biscuits and pet accessories
Katie’s Creations – Resin home accessories and gifts
Marianne Acheson Art – including Christmas decoration painted oyster shells
Party World Christmas Decorations
Dave Curran – hand carved walking sticks and oil paintings
Ann’s Local Crafts – handmade handbags and gifts
Lisa Walsh Photography – Framed and mounted photographs of local scenes
Milis Luxury Candles and wax melt
Baiba Wreaths and silk flowers
Angie’s Art – Paintings
Unique Fabric Gifts including Christmas decorations
JenafreilKnits Hand knitted products
Helen Hogan Photography Photobooth – get your photo taken and printed immediately – the ideal Christmas gift
Lyla Home baking
Chloe Bennet Handcrafted wooden reindeer and candle holders
Sandra’s Knitwear Hats, scarves and gloves
- ••••• FOOD & DRINK••••••
Mean Bean Coffee
Mulled Wine • Burgers • Crepes • Bars
You can also book a table for Sunday lunch at the Haven on 051 383 150 (booking essential)
- •••••CHARITY STALLS••••••
Down Syndrome Waterford and South Kilkenny Group Christmas cards and calendars
Stall in aid of River Rescue – Children’s books and cuddly toys