My Weekend: I love the idea of someone having a piece of hand-painted art in their home, which can light up the room with the flick of a switch!

Olive Murphy of Olive Murphy Design tells The Echo about her craft business
My Weekend: I love the idea of someone having a piece of hand-painted art in their home, which can light up the room with the flick of a switch!

Olive Murphy of Olive Murphy Designs

TELL us a little bit about yourself.

Even though sometimes I take it for granted, I feel very lucky to live on a farm near Mallow, along the River Blackwater. I live here with my husband and two young children, pets, and chickens.

I’m a textile artist, setting up Olive Murphy Designs a few years ago, with the support of Mallow Local Enterprise Office. I was lucky to join Cork Craft and Design, and be part of the co-op shop in Douglas.

It was a great place to meet other craftspeople, to share information and mentoring opportunities, and to meet customers directly. From then I have never looked back.

I’m now stocked in some wonderful shops around Cork, such as Castlemartyr Gallery and Gift Shop, and Great Artitude in Doneraile, and I also sell on my website www.olivemurphydesigns.com. It was a tough year with Covid, but the direct support for craft from everyone has been amazing.

My creations include hand-painted lampshades, and a range of beautiful linen homeware, and greeting cards. Not to sound cliched, but honestly, my inspiration does come from my locality, in particular the beautiful wild flowers, and the sea, we are an island after all!

I never thought my art classes in school, which I loved, would lead to me creating a cottage industry many years later. It’s wonderful to see such a revival in local craft, and it’s worth checking out Cork Craft Month running through August. I ran my first lampshade painting workshop on August 15 as part of Doneraile Art Fest, and it was so good to see the enthusiasm for art and craft from everyone there.

As for me, I feel privileged to be able to do something I love, and to hear the feedback from customers is uplifting yet surprising! I love the idea of someone having a piece of hand-painted art in their home, which can light up the room with the flick of a switch!

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

A few years ago I would have said out on the town, but with two children under five in the house, those nights are limited.

But it’s not all bad, my Friday nights are usually cuddling Danny, my four-year-old son, before bedtime, watching his current ‘favourite’ show, Escape To The Chateau — we’re giving him bad ideas, he now wants to convert our farmyard outhouses to a chateau and hotel!! I just want a studio!

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

I dream of lie-ins, but Sophie, our two-year-old, likes getting up at 6am, take or leave a few minutes! As much as I loved lie-ins, I have to admit the amount of work that I manage to get done before 9am is amazing — its downhill after that!! My husband and I try to take turns to have a small lie- in at the weekends.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

All the time to be honest. It’s hard to avoid. It also nearly is easier for me, as my husband works during the week, so sometimes the evenings and weekends are my busy times.

Olive Murphy.
Olive Murphy.

If money was no object, where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Long story, but I had a really bad reaction to an insect bite a few weeks ago, just before I was going away for a night to Killarney with my sisters. I was unable to drive, so luckily, I was able to get the train from Mallow to Killarney.

The trip only lasted 24 hours but it was amazing. As my sisters said, usually you might walk a town street at night hearing the ‘craic’ go on inside the pubs, but with Covid-19 all the craic was outside the pubs, the town was alive, buzzing, uplifting, but still safe. It really felt like I had been abroad, without the hassle of the airport and flying!!

So, to cut a long story short, part of me would like to return to Killarney with my sisters. But part of me would love to return to Sydney with my husband. After slumming it in hostels in Kings Cross more than 20 years ago as a backpacker, it would be amazing to return there with money, and stay in a nice hotel overlooking the harbour.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I’m originally from West Cork, near Clonakilty, so the choice is endless there. I’ve been living in Mallow, on a farm next to the Blackwater river, so as beauty spots go this is pretty amazing.

But our usually bolthole is Garrylucas / Garrettstown. As those with small children know, a trip to the beach is chaotic, so to be able to park right alongside the beach, and literally cross the footpath to the beach is so handy.

And to have a toilet on your doorstep is great too, especially when it comes with our first sighting of a lizard / skink in Ireland – Danny was amazed. PS: A quick stop after the bridge heading back towards Kinsale comes highly recommended by our two children for the best fish and chips.

Mallow town also has a lot to offer, with the stunning Mallow Castle and grounds with its famous dragon throne, and a wonderful park and walk that runs along the river. It’s a wonderful amenity to have in our town.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

We live at the end of a very long lane way (so long, I have had friends ring on the way down the laneway to make sure they weren’t lost). So sometimes we might spend the whole weekend doing work around our home, walking to the river, weeding, and playing in the garden.

My family live an hour and a half away, so we try to visit them as often as we can, but my husband’s family live at the top of our lane, which is really great, so my children can spend quality time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies?

Even as a spectator? I’d love to say I’m sporty, but nope! I love being outdoors, in the garden, planting new flowers, sowing seeds, picking blackberries, and elderberries in the autumn.

It’s also great to see the enthusiasm from the children. To be able to have them pick their own pea pods, and love eating the peas is wonderful.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I like both to be honest. But I remember a few years back, when a friend and her family joined us by the river to watch the local raft race. After a few hours we returned to the house, starved. Inspiration hit, and we collected some wild garlic from the woods, and added it to some spaghetti and a jar of sundried tomatoes.

Everyone returned for second helpings. So even though It’s really easy, wild garlic is a really versatile plant, smells amazing, and is free!

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

Wow, that’s a tough question, food in Cork is so good now. A recent holiday near Kilbrittain had us eating in the Lifeboat Inn in Courtmacsherry, and O’Donovans Hotel in Clonakilty (which had a covered outdoor eating area), and we were delighted to get to the Fish Basket right on the Long Strand beach.

Closer to home, Springfort Hall is amazing. A while ago, my husband and I loved nothing better than getting the train to Cork in the afternoon, and never having to leave McCurtain Street, with the many restaurants and pubs to choose from.

Sunday night comes around too fast... how do you normally spend it?

Working for myself is amazing, as I don’t have that pit in your stomach feeling, when you know you have work in the morning. Sure, I still have work, orders coming in, Facebook ads to do, lampshades to paint, etc, but to be honest a Sunday is just like another day in the week.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

My toddler alarm clock is pretty accurate at 6am, no rest for the wicked.

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