My Weekend: Going for walks, listening to music... getting lost in the scenery

Artist Kira O Brien tells us about her work as a ceramic and print teacher, her love of music and acting. 
My Weekend: Going for walks, listening to music... getting lost in the scenery

Kiera O'Brien performing with Carlos Paz.

Tell us about yourself:

I’ve been living and working in Cork around 30 years now with my lovely husband Tom (retired Firefighter) and my beautiful daughters Martha and Lola (now grown and nearly gone). Originally from Dublin I remember when Tom drove the both of us down here and brought me to Crosshaven and I was so blown away by it I knew we’d stay and make a home here together. Within a couple of years Martha was born and we were moving into one of the very first houses built in Crosshaven and we’ve been blessed with wonderful neighbours and a very lively, vibrant village. We have a beach just up the road and at weekends I love to take walks with our dog Bennie, listen to music and just get lost in the scenery, we really are lucky to have such wonderful views!

During the week I work as a Ceramic and Print Teacher in Colaiste Stiofain Naofa, Carrigaline Community School (where I am also Artist in Residence teaching 4th year students) and Mahon Family Resource Centre.

Kira O'Brien.
Kira O'Brien.

I’ve been working with clay and print for around sixteen years now and I have to say from the moment I stepped into college to learn about it, it has gripped me ever since. I have exhibited nationally and internationally, sold my work in galleries and online and been part of wonderful Artists Collectives (including Owenabue Artists Collective in Carrigaline of which you will find on Main St Carrigaline) and learned so much from being around such talented artists. Now I love to pass on what I’ve learned to others and thoroughly enjoy bringing a class through the process of making in clay.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Although I love to socialise, my favourite Friday night is “Nacho Night” spent with Tom and my girls in front of the telly watching “First Dates” and “Gogglebox” and laughing our heads off at the shows. As the night suggests a HUGE dish of Nachos is made with all our favourite toppings, a big cheese board and some wine (of course!!) Might sound boring to some people but when you’re busy all week and your kids are growing and leaving fast, nights like that spent together laughing are the best ever!

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

Although I enjoy a lie in, I would say I’m an early morning person (but not tooo early) … I like that I’m up early I feel I’m having a longer day and I fit more into it and I love to see a sun rise.

Some of Kiera O'Brien Ceramics
Some of Kiera O'Brien Ceramics

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Yes, work does creep into the weekends especially if I’m working on my own stuff, at the moment I’m learning new printing techniques so I’ll try to get that in on a Saturday for instance.

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

I’d probably like a five star weekend break to Florence where we spent our Honeymoon, it’s such a beautiful city and we both love Italy.

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

One of my oldest and dearest friend Jackie lives on the Aran Islands , and for years we’ve spent Summers there separately and as a family,i t’s DEFINITELY the place to recharge your batteries , beautiful scenery, beaches, and good pubs too!!

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

My friends and family are very important to me so yes I love to catch up when possible, I’ll be meeting my three sisters in Kilkenny in a few weekends as we all live in different areas , it’s important to make an effort so we can don’t loose touch.

Kiera O'Brien performing with Carlos Paz
Kiera O'Brien performing with Carlos Paz

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

My two main hobbies are music and acting. I play banjo, guitar, Ukulele and I sing (and write a little too) I also play in a duo with my friend and professional musician Carlos Paz. We were very honoured to support Jack O'Rourke at Tracton Arts Festival last summer. It was such a thrill and an amazing experience and we’ve also had the privilege to play at Habour Light  Singer Songwriter Club run by Musician Billy Kennedy and his wife Sheila here in Crosshaven. 

Recently I featured in a play at the Cork Arts Theatre, called View From A Window written and Directed by Sean Creagh, as part of their 10x10 series of plays , five from Ireland and five from the UK, which ran from April 25 to 29. I was very excited to be part of it.

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

I think I definitely like to be entertained! If I have to bring something it’s usually a desert and nearly always cheesecake ! But when I have guests for dinner I’ll make a good Vegetarian Curry with all the usual trimmings!

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

Our usual haunt is Cronin’s in Crosshaven! It’s where I always bring friends and family when they come to visit and there’s a fantastic welcome for them ! Great food and music of course and during the Summer when bands play outside it’s fantastic to have a pint and soak up the atmosphere! We Love it!

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

Sunday night for me is always preparing for the busy week ahead, maybe have a glass of wine and watch the telly before getting an early night.

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

My alarm clock( Bennie) goes off around 7!

Anything else you are up to right now...

In a couple of weeks I’ll be travelling to Newcastle in the UK to take part in a singing workshop hosted by two members of the Unthanks band, Becky & Rachel Unthank . I’ve loved this band for about 10 years now and just adore their folky voices and harmonies .. I’m hoping to learn something about the voice and singing in general and find inspiration for my own music.

For more on Kira's work follow her on Facebook at Kira O'Brien Ceramics.

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