Aug 30

F.E. McWilliam Studio

  Welcome to the next installment of Irish Shops We Love! This time a quick look at F.E. McWillam Studio in Banbridge, Co. Down is set in beautiful surrounds and well worth a visit.   Opened in September 2008, the gallery celebrates the work of the sculptor, Frederick Edward McWilliam, who was born in Newry Street, Banbridge on 30 April 1909. A contemporary and friend of Henry Moore, McWilliam made his name in London and established a reputation as one of the most important sculptors of his generation. After McWilliam’s death on 3rd May 1992, his estate gifted the contents of his studio, originally situated in Holland Park, London, and a number of sculptures to Banbridge District Council. After several years of research a suitable site and funding was found to commence work on a purpose built gallery, sculpture garden and replica of McWilliam’s studio. Designed by Kennedy Fitzgerald and Associates, Belfast, the gallery is conveniently situated on the outskirts of Banbridge and just off the main Belfast to Dublin Road. Featuring a permanent display of McWilliam’s work, temporary exhibitions of Irish and international art, a craft shop, café and Banbridge Tourist Information Centre, the F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio attracted over 43,000 visitors during its first year and continues to attract a wide range of local, national and international visitors.

Aug 30

The Old Mill Stores


    A brush with fame and fortune for this installment of Irish Shops we Love!   The Old Mill Stores is owned and run by Claire Graham & Tom Keane. Their stock runs the gamut of goods from hardware to haberdashery and crockery to craft that is high-quality, original and hard not to love.

The Old Mill Stores sell high quality, well-designed and sometimes amusing, homeware, gifts, craft, antique stoves and more – from the practical to the beautiful. Their guiding principle is simple – if they like it and think you will too, they buy it!

Tell us a bit about the shop.

People are looking for things to do on those cloudy days, and we do better on the less glorious days. People will stop and browse for half an hour, and our modus operandi at The Old Mill Stores is to stock items that will not be found in other places.  A lot of our trade would be divided between Irish visitors from all over the country and local people searching for a special art or craft gift for an occasion or event.  We have a lot of space here, particularly after doing a basement conversion, so adding extra ranges was a natural direction for us to grow in.  Already living over the store, we wanted to maximize the space to yield better retail potential.[/special_font]  

What inspired you to open your outlet and how long have you been up and running?

We wanted to sell things that couldn’t be found elsewhere in Ireland, and began travelling to source unusual stock from around Europe. Having brothers in Denmark and Holland made regular buying trips an attractive proposition for us as new styles and ranges were slowly added to the expanding business. We source new goods during our quieter periods — October, November and January. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are wonderful for finding interesting ranges in new design, as well as regular trips to France. Over the months, we became stockists for goods that nobody else was selling here. What’s your favorite part of having your own shop?  Describe a typical day for us With stove sales still accounting for a significant portion of sales, The Old Mill received an unexpected, and very beneficial, piece of promotion when three of their models were chosen for the final Harry Potter film. We had become quite famous for our stoves, as we were the only people bringing antique Scandinavian and European stoves and the filmmakers just came across us on the internet. They went on to buy three stoves, and that in turn led to us also being contacted for other stoves by film director Tim Burton. We did get to bring the stoves over to the UK, and while we didn’t get to go on the Harry Potter film set, it was a great opportunity for us to visit a number of markets over there. Have you spotted any trends for SS2014 you can let us in on? We would like to develop our own brand range, possibly along the lines of t-shirts, bags, scarves, aprons — a general gift and accessories range. We have a number of design ideas in that space that we see as being very marketable, as well as a possible pop-up shop either in Cork City or Dublin. Allied to that, we are looking at adding more vintage lines to the shop, as well as maintaining and developing our online presence further. The season here in West Cork has certainly started very well for us, and we expect a better summer than last year. How can we find you? You can find us on our website: The Old Mill Stores[/special_font] On Facebook:[/special_font] Or at shop: Millside Gortroe Leap Co. Cork Or By phone: +353 (0)28 34917[/special_font]