Like many of us these days, I spent the morning on Zoom. In my case, I was a participant in a Zoom event investigating what attracts visitors to south County Monaghan.
I’m extremely proud of my home and studio here off the beaten track, yet so convenient to everywhere, mid-way between Dublin and Belfast. As we discussed in our meeting, the county offers an embarrassment of riches to the tourist, with accommodation ranging from castles to hideaway self-catering cottages, and everything in between. It’s got culture of course, with Castleblayney’s rich country music history (I live beside the village of Oram – home of the late Big Tom), or the newly renovated Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, not to mention Castleblayney’s Iontas Theatre and Art Centre. There’s world-class golf available at Concra Wood golf course which also offers panoramic views over Lough Muckno to Hope Castle and beyond. That’s just one of the golf courses in the county; but there’s plenty of other sporting options with water sports, adventure trails, quad biking, rally driving, and much more besides. Needless to say there’s plenty of art and craft on offer – you can visit craftspeople in their studios and see them work (weaver Liz Christy, amd batik artist Louise Loughman, are both based in Swallow Studios, Annyalla), or simply enjoy a bit of retail therapy – in Carrickmacross, for example, you’ve got Collective at Market Square, with the renowned Carrickmacross Lace Gallery right next door. There’s plenty of fabulous food available, craft breweries and distilleries, history and heritage in every corner. I won’t go on and on.
When the meeting was over, I decided it was an ideal time to shut down the computer, wrap up and head out for a walk to stretch my legs. Rather than use words, why not come with me for just one minute, for a 360° look around. Apologies for the sound – it was a bit windy and certainly chilly! At the very start, you’ll see my own little King’s Forge in the bottom left corner, with Mullyash mountain in the background. Then watch the famous Monaghan drumlin landscape span out as the camera travels right round and back again to my own wee corner of south County Monaghan.
This is what I call #MyMonaghan. Not only does it inspire my glass work, but it sustains me every day. When the time is right, when it’s safe to do so, why not make a break for it, and come to visit!