The Craft Reach project had its 6th partner meeting in lovely Ballycastle in Northern Ireland in early February 2017. The local partner, Causeway Cost and Glens Heritage Trust put together an exciting programme including visits to several enterprises that are soon to be launched as Économusées.
An Économusée is an artisan that uses traditional craft techniques in its production. Its door is open to the public and tourists so they can visit and learn about its know-how and meet the craftspeople. Visiting an Économusée is a t memorable event.
On our trip to Northern Ireland we visited the beautiful Giant’s Causeway & Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge and the new visitor centre. They receive about 1 million tourists a year! And not least, after the Game of Thrones success many visitors wants to explore the sites from the series.
On Tuesday, the project steering group met the artisans from Ireland and Norther Ireland. ‘How to grow your business’ and ‘Communications’ were some of the topics at an artisan workshop. Invited speakers gave some interesting lectures that were very useful for both the artisans and the project partners.
The artisans had a good discussion about how to benefit from, and how to be part of, an international network, and many good ideas came up. At the dinner afterwards Alderman Maura Hickey, Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council Brenda Murphy, Tourism NI and other stakeholders were invited guests.
Hillstown Brewery is one of Northern Ireland’s new Économusées and we had an interesting tour, tasting the brewery products, and a lovely lunch at Hillstown Farmshop. The Brewery strives to use the best quality ingredients. They brew by hand and want to share their passion about a good crafted beer.
After lunch, we continued towards the Raceview Mill and a reception with Audrey Wales MBE, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. We also met Sasha McVey, who is a contemporary artist of bespoke ceramics. Youth placement is one of the main objectives in Craft Reach. Sasha McVey got a placement opportunity to develop her ceramics craft with Louise Bousquet in Quebec. McVey spent two weeks learning from, and sharing her own skills with Louise and she was very happy about the opportunity. The partners started their partner meeting at Raceview Mill and continued until dinnertime.
At dinnertime, the project steering group got a big surprise. A cooking class at Upstairs at Joes, where we learned how to make a lemon pie and to fry fish, great fun!
Between all the meetings one must eat, and what is more perfect than to eat at one of the Économusée located in Ballycastle. Ursa Minor is a bakery with the mission to supply fresh, delicious food produced using local organic ingredients. They make bread using traditional methods. Ursa Minor gave us a tour and told us their history before we had a tasty vegan lunch in the popular cafeteria.
Craft Reach is more than half way through its project. Some new Économusée are already launched and the rest of the 22 new Économusée will open in spring and early fall 2017. The partners in the project are from Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Canada. The project steering group discussed the project status, activities like Silver Service and Youth Placement. We also discussed a planned conference in Autumn 2017 with participants from all the Économusées so the artisans can benefit more from the international network. More information will come when things are settled.
The week in Ballycastle was great and very useful! A big thanks to Tierna, Carole and Graham for arranging everything! The next PSG meeting will be in Sweden in June.