My Weekend: My intention for 2023 is make my weekends for me and my loved ones.

Bespoke designer of watercolour portraits and Ogham inscriptions Helen Lynch tells us how she likes to spend her weekends
My Weekend: My intention for 2023 is make my weekends for me and my loved ones.

Artist Helen Lynch of Ogham Irish Designs

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Helen Lynch. I’m originally from Beara, West Cork and I’m currently based Cork city. I run my own small business designing bespoke watercolour portraits and Ogham inscriptions. I graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Designs in 2011 and after a long hiatus I started painting very tentatively in 2017. In 2020 amidst the upheaval of the pandemic I decided to go all in, rebrand and official set up my small business, Ogham Irish Designs. I run an e-commerce site that allows me to sell and ship my works worldwide.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

It depends on my mood and the time of year. I split my time between working mornings as a medical secretary for a local GP practice and afternoons on my business and everything that it entails. 

By the time Friday evening rolls around I like nothing better than putting on my walking boots, heading out for a brisk walk to blow away the cobwebs then settling in for the evening with some good food and tv. 

In summer time I might take off to one of the surrounding beaches for a dip and fish and chips with a friend.

Helen Lynch at a showcase with her
Helen Lynch at a showcase with her

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

Right now I’m loving slow mornings at the weekend, with no pressure to be up early. If I’m not working it’s hard to get me out of a cosy bed! I’m a big believer in listening to our bodies when it comes to sleeping. In an ideal world they should be telling us how much sleep me need, not the other way around.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

As a small business owner, I’d be lying if I said no, but I try to create a boundary between work and relaxation. I relish the quiet weekend mornings where I can cook something really nice for breakfast while the world is still sleepy. If I need to work on my business I’ll set a time limit and try my best to stick with it. 

It’s a labour of love and I’ll often pop a podcast on in the background so it doesn’t always feel like work!

Some of Helen Lynch's work, 
Some of Helen Lynch's work, 

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

One of my favourite spots is Dzogchen Beara, the Tibetian Buddist Retreat centre in Allihies, West Cork. I grew up pretty close to there and I always try to make time to visit when I’m home. It’s a beautiful cliffside community that provides hospice care and spiritual retreats. It’s the perfect place for meditation, reflection and they have a wonderful cafe there.  They also have a number of small cliffside houses and spending a summer weekend there would be a dream. 

As much as I love city breaks in other countries, sometimes there is no place like our own beautiful Island.

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

My recharge spot has to be my family home on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork. There are woodland walks nearby and also caves, cliffs, the ocean. It’s a little slice of heaven with no noise or light pollution. It’s my space to breath, reconnect with nature and take our family pets on long walks.

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

I do. Carving out some time for friends and family can be a challenge at certain times of the year when running a small business but my intention for 2023 is make my weekends for me and my loved ones.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I started sea-swimming early last year and was blown away by the benefits. I got into a routine of heading to Kinsale or Inch beach two or three evenings a week. It really became a ritual. I haven’t started sea swimming yet this year but I’m looking forward to getting back out there once the evenings get a little longer.

More of Helen's work.
More of Helen's work.

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

I like both! I recently discovered a delightful recipe for honey glazed carrots with harissa chickpeas. Cooking is a form of meditation for me, and I think it’s a very personal way to show someone you care by cooking for them.

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

Myself and my mum always make a reservation for our much loved lunch spot, The Green Room at the Crawford. It recently relaunched and their Bombay toasty has won our hearts. Their coffee is gorgeous and the service is fantastic. A beautiful spot for a leisurely lunch.

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

Usually on Sunday I’m planning my week, and getting myself in the headspace for doing it all over again. A long hot shower and warm pjs might not sound the most exciting but it’s my way of setting an intention for a productive week.

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

My alarm goes off at 7.15am. I allow myself 15 minutes to lie there and reflect, with no phone and no distractions. In that time an idea or two might come to me and I keep a small notebook by my bed to capture them. 

My mind is always working over new plans and ideas, even when I’m sleeping!

Anything else you are up to right now...

I currently stock my work in two retail shops, one is Cork and one in Dublin. I’m looking to expand on this number this year and that means making a high volume of work. There’s also some plans in the pipeline to facilitate a virtual Ogham writing workshop at the end of April. I’m excited to see what other interesting things this year will bring. You can follow my Ogham adventures on @ogham_irish_design

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