A Taste of Irish Christmas: Chatting with Purveyors of Unique Irish Gifts

The following is a transcript taken from the LIVE Community Chat chat hosted here at TheWildGeese.com on Monday, November 18, 2013 with three crafters of unique Irish gifts: Marie Enright of Si-Og DollsMurray Heasman of 'Tara the Game,' and Phil Archbold of Heritage Hurleys Some editing has been applied for clarity. 

The Wild Geese:  Céad míle fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for this evening’s LIVE community chat with Murray Heasman of Tara the Game, Marie Enright of Si-Og Dolls and Phil Archibold of Heritage Hurleys. Our focus this evening is on ‘A Taste of Irish Christmas’.

My name is Belinda Evangelista, and I’ll be the moderator for this evening’s chat.

Belinda Evangelista:  Marie, please tell the delightful story about the ladies who dress the Dolls from the Irish nursing home.

Gerry Regan:  Céad míle fáilte romhat, fellows!  And failte to you, Marie a chara. I hadn't noticed you sitting at the table. ;-)  I'm very kean to learn about your offerings. Always looking for something different to put under the tree! :-)

Bit Devine:  Are those Marie's dolls you posted a photo of, Belinda?

Marie Enright:  Failte to everyone on our chat show. I am the 'doll lady' making the Si-Og Dolls since 1993 - not by myself - I am assisted by many other wonderful people, some in their late 70s and 80s mostly at this stage of their lives residing in nursing homes. They knit, crochet, sew - such wonderful talent.

Gerry Regan:  And before Si-Og a sorely underused resource, it would seem.

Belinda Evangelista:  What a wonderful hobby for the “golden years.”

Marie Enright:  I am just the finishing person. putting together, dressing, adding hair and boots and presenting in a box, lying on a cushion to protect them on their way.

Gerry Regan:  Do the dolls come with the name of the creator? It would seem a great way to connect generations!  Maybe even get a dialogue going.

Bit Devine:  They are marvelous, Marie … do they come with a tag explaining who made their garments?

Marie Enright:  Many of these ladies used to knit the large woolen Aran sweaters, but then these garments got too heavy for their hands.

Belinda Evangelista:  You can view Marie's Dolls here.

Marie Enright:  Each doll has a swing tag and I sign this. I also keep a record of how many made and each has a code, which can be checked when made.  These are good Christmas presents - they are not toys, but great collectable presents for a child with Irish Heritage.

Gerry Regan:  I'm charmed, Marie. I know of several friends who would relish purchasing these for their daughters, young and old!

Belinda Evangelista:  Marie, what is the last day for guaranteed shipping overseas for your products so Wild Geese members can have them under the tree?

Marie Enright:  Usually the 10th of December, but I have posted up to 17th and they have been received.

Bit Devine:  I am wishing I had them in my shop out here in Arizona, Ger!

Gerry Regan:  In fact, mo chara, I see several that I would be proud to have sitting on my dresser!

Marie Enright:  Should I not be sure of arrival for Christmas, I can send an email from the doll saying 'I am on my way - wait for me – Aoife.'

Gerry Regan:  Lovely idea, Marie. Even Ireland's dolls are computer literate! ;-)

Bit Devine:  I haven't been a doll collector since my teens … but these I would collect.

Marie Enright:  Thank you for the comments.  They are appreciated by all. Tonight I called by one of my knitters - living in the Kerry hills on her own at the age of 78 what a great strong little person she is.

Bit Devine:  Marie, it would be enjoyable to record their stories.  I am sure each of your ladies has a treasure trove of "I remember whens."

Gerry Regan:  Marie, I'm enthralled by your product line, and approach. Looking forward to spreading the word!

Belinda Evangelista:  Now to Murray.  Murray, I imagine there’s blood, sweat, tears and joy in the development of the game. Can you tell us of some of those moments?

Murray Heasman:  Yes, it took 12 years in total to get the first edition out.

Belinda Evangelista:  Many years in the making

Murray Heasman:  I was inspired by Celtic knotwork and the Hill of Tara - it's been a life's work.

Marie Enright:  Well done, Murray, on your game.  It seems so inventive - and challenging. I certainly will get one for Christmas here in Ireland.

Bit Devine:  It appears to be a strategy game, Murray?

Gerry Regan:  Yes, I'd like to learn more about the game, Murray. What's the set-up?

Murray Heasman:  Yes, as with many games it's so easy to learn, but as you get into it you'll see many hidden depths.

Marie Enright:  These games, I appreciate, can take years of dedicated time and patience.  It is a tough market to survive in … my congratulations to you.

Murray Heasman:  It's a collection of five games, either two or four players.

Belinda Evangelista:  Murray, are there names for the different knotwork patterns?

Murray Heasman:  The patterns are so varied it's difficult to put a name on them all.

Belinda Evangelista:  You can view Murray's site here.

Murray Heasman:  I'm a carver of wood and leather.  This was a trip into a "bread and butter" line that completely took over.

Marie Enright:  It goes to show … ‘you have it in the hands' and have expanded it from there.

Belinda Evangelista:  I saw your leather work.  Beautiful.

Bit Devine:  Murray, you said you are in Clonakilty? I am making notes for when I am over in the spring.  If I am in area, I try to meet up with local artisans.

Murray Heasman: The games are basically connection games - link yours and divide your opponent.

Marie Enright:  I look forward, Murray, to visiting your site and viewing your crafts.

Gerry Regan:  Murray, can you liken the game to any other specific game out there, to help familiarize us with the look and feel? Understanding its strength is its uniqueness.

Bit Devine:  It reminds me, in a way, of Othello … or Stratego, with a more Celtic/Druid flavor.  I am very intrigued.

Murray Heasman:  As it happened, the guitar straps were the first. I was rung up one day by Jimmy Page of Led Zep for one!

Gerry Regan:  I think I read in your Green Pages listing that the board is 3-D?

Marie Enright:  What a good start.  I did hear of the gap in the market for the guitar strap by a former leather worker.

Murray Heasman:  There are similarities to quite a few games – checkers, dots and boxes Othello – but I've really simplified the knotwork.  It just happens when the ringforts are connected, you place a bridge between each pair and the knotwork magically happens.

Bit Devine:  Even more intrigued now.

Gerry Regan:  Do you have specific age groups in mind for these games, as so many major games makers do here in the States?

Marie Enright:  Wow, certainly intriguing!  What age do you suggest for this game?

Murray Heasman:  You can play on a very simple way or more advanced.  The newest game, four treasures can be played with ages six and up.

Murray Heasman;  But it also suits all us wise old things too!

Marie Enright:  Good, I should be able for it?

Gerry Regan:  Just my thought, Marie. Finally a game I can master! ;-)

Bit Devine:  There is a Celtic trade show hosted in New Jersey every April.  Have you, Marie, Murray, considered bringing your products to the show for wholesale ordering?

Marie Enright:  I have attended the one in Secaucus in Spring and in Chicago in the fall, but found the overhead costs too high.

Gerry Regan:  Marie, you'll have to tie in that trip with a visit to some Irish-American cousins, or fellow Wild Geese.

Bit Devine:  Perhaps...Marie will join us at O'Luneys, Ger?

Murray Heasman:  Yes, I do wholesale.  They are warehoused in the US, so delivery is really quick.  I have had other distributors do it for me before, but maybe I should come myself?

Murray Heasmanhttp://www.tailtengames.com/index.html

Bit Devine:  I am there every year as a buyer.  From that perspective, I am more apt to order if I am talking to the person who designed the product.

Belinda Evangelista:  Phil is very quiet there. Phil, your hurleys are beautiful to look at and would grace any wall in my home. Are they functional also?

Heritage Hurleys:  Never quiet, Belinda. Was having a look at the other products websites. No the hurleys are generally for display, they are varnish finished … makes it a bit tricky for playing. :-)

Belinda Evangelista:  Murray, What is the last day for guaranteed shipping overseas for your products so Wild Geese members can have them under the tree?

Murray Heasman:  I'd have to check on that, sorry I don't know offhand.

Gerry Regan:  Phil, I will never forget the opening scene in "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," featuring Damian and his brother and pals whacking the sliotar with their hurleys.  Seemed to embody the spirit of resistance AND cultural identity of that ancient sport!

I am thrilled to learn of your focus, Phil!

Belinda Evangelista:  Phil how long have you been producing the hurleys?

Marie Enright:  I never took notice of these hurleys in that film - will certainly do so now! Thanks.

Bit Devine:  Ahhh now … it’s a nice gentle sport, it is Ger …

Heritage Hurleys:  We've been making souvenir hurleys since 2009.  And Gerry, that is a great film and good that they incorporated the fantastic tradition of hurling!

Gerry Regan:  Good and brilliant, Phil! What sport is more Irish than hurling, one can fairly ask?

Bit Devine:  I like what you do with your Hurleys, Phil ... more for walls than playing fields.

Heritage Hurleys:  Yes, Bit. Definitely for display purposes. We personalise them all, so vast choice of imagery available.

Belinda Evangelista:  Heraldic hurleys, too?

Belinda Evangelista:  You can view Phil's hurleys here.

Bit Devine:  Marie, do you bring the dolls to the Shows.  I would think they would have caught my eye, and I don't recall them … or just your knits?

Marie Enright:  Bit, it is a few years since I have attended any shows in the U.S.

Heritage Hurleys:  Over 2,000 years in existence!  Fast and furious, the warrior game, and of course Cuchulain.

Bit Devine:  They based Harry Potter's Quiditch on Hurling, Ger

Gerry Regan:  Phil, did you play a lot of hurling as a lad, or perhaps you still do?

Marie Enright:  Great info from all the crafters - thank you so much.

Gerry Regan:  I heard President Obama was tempted to use his hurley atop the noggin of the Speaker of the House! Now that's keeping with the club's heritage. LOL

Bit Devine:  I shall contact you about getting more information on them sent to the shop...in the next few days, Phil.  I should rather think someone might smote him up along the noggin, Ger … but no politics on this day.

Gerry Regan:  They'd have to get their own hurley, then, Bit. Fair play!

Marie Enright:  Are the hurleys full size?

Heritage Hurleys:  Great Bit! Look forward to it. And Marie, we make the souvenirs up to size 32, anything larger reserved for the players on the field.  Marie, we'll put an image of the dolls on the hurleys for you!

Belinda Evangelista:  Marie you will have to do a doll with one of Phil's hurleys.

Bit Devine:  Wouldn't that be fun, Belinda!

Marie Enright:  I did a few dolls in the County colours - but unfortunately, they were considered too expensive. Each doll had a sized hurley.

Bit Devine:  What's the smallest you do, Phil?  I am thinking for a boy's nursery.

Heritage Hurleys:  Smallest is 12 inches.  We mount them on solid wood board also, with mini sliotar. Very popular.

Gerry Regan:  Keep a steady eye out for the commemorative JFK hurley, which I found particularly compelling as we approach the 50th of the President's death.

Marie Enright:  Mounting must make them so presentable and a finished product - well done.

Belinda Evangelista:  And Murray, because hurling is an ancient game, you will have to incorporate it into a version of Tara.

Murray Heasman:  I'll have to think about it more Belinda. And can I say that we do some amazing jigsaw puzzles of Rachel Arbuckle's work.

Belinda Evangelista:  Rachel's work is amazing, Murray.

Murray Heasman:  She is, I think, the best. The detail is outstanding.

Belinda Evangelista:  Hamish do you know Rachel's work?

Hamish Douglas Burgess:  Aloha folks - great work, all of you! Love Rachelʻs artwork also.

Bit Devine:  I know of one that I will be ordering then, Phil.  Most definitely … nephew due in mid-December

Belinda Evangelista:  Cool, Auntie Bit.

Heritage Hurleys:  Will do a special price on the mini hurley mounted with sliotar. no problem.

Gerry Regan:  Just noticed these: Your family crest on a commemorative hurley.

Bit Devine:  It would seem I am about to have a whole section of my shop that will become Wild Geese created.  Games, dolls, puzzles, hurleys … Oh My!

Gerry Regan:  I like the sound of that, Bit. We definitely strive to bring the best of Irish heritage, history, most broadly culture, to the digital space.

Belinda Evangelista:  T'was the night before Christmas when all thru Wild Geese …

Bit Devine:  Hello, Hamish!

Hamish Douglas Burgess:  Hello folks - greetings from Maui

Bit Devine:  All the children were smiling … and the folks were at peace.

Hamish Douglas Burgess:  In advance … Mele Kalikimaka when it comes around!

Bit Devine:  Mahalo, Hamish!

Bit Devine:  May I just put it out here then … for all of our artisans, if you've a catalogue of product you would like me to consider for the shop, inbox me and I will send you my shop information.

Murray Heasman:  Will do.

Marie Enright:  Thanks Bit, will be delighted to.

Bit Devine:  We sell hurleys at the shop … for sport not display.  When people ask me what they are, I tell them it is a teenage attitude adjustment stick.

Heritage Hurleys:  You need to show the game in action, on a TV screen. Clare v Cork final this year. They'll all buy them!

Murray Heasman:  If anyone fancies playing Tara this Christmas, get practicing. We're holding the first Tara world championships in Clonakilty in February 7th-9th 2014.

Belinda Evangelista:  Winding it down for this evening with thanks to Murray, Marie and Phil.

Bit Devine:  Go raibh míle maith agat, mo chairde … so many new Christmas ideas.

Gerry Regan:  Linda, Phil, Murray, Marie, bravo. Go raibh míle maith agaibh for sharing your artistry with us!


Views: 777

Tags: Chat, Christmas, Community, Gifts, Hurling, Shopping, Sport

Comment by Murray Heasman on November 21, 2013 at 5:33am

Thank Belinda for the transcript. IT was an enjoyable discussion altogether. Keep up the great work.

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on November 21, 2013 at 5:56am

I enjoyed it too Murray.

Founding Member
Comment by Nollaig 2016 on November 21, 2013 at 1:10pm


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