Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Style & Image

With a busy schedule I am constantly buying clothing online or when in the shops I am too impatient to wait in line for the dressing room so I can try things on, because of this I have and ended up with piles of clothes that just don’t suit. The problem here was I just didn’t know what suited me and was grabbing anything off the rails that caught my eye or looked good on friends and family. In an effort to decrease my shopping disasters, I attended the style and image course in An Grianán taught by personal shopper/stylist Nora Fitzpatrick
We were first given a style personality questionnaire to help Nora determine or style preferences from elegant to eclectic. This was also an indicator of what fabrics, textures and colours we were drawn to.

Nora then discussed the different body shape’s giving style advice and fashion tips for each shape.
Nora then carried out a colour analysis on everyone in the class and explained which colours complemented everyone’s natural colourings form the skin, eyes and hair. This analysis can be applied to clothes, make up and accessories
Throughout the course Nora also talked about how to make what you have in your wardrobe more versatile, how to ware and combine fabrics colour and prints as well as how to choose the size of accessories to complement outfits and body shape.

This is the perfect course for those looking to increase their ease in shopping, decrease money waste and improve their style. I now can shop online with more confidence.

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The History of An Grianán

An Grianán was not always an education centre
The then Newtown House was built in the 18th century by McClintock and bought by Mrs. Helen Lentaigne, a founding member of the ICA, in 1922.  Because of Mrs. Lentaigne connections with the ICA, Newtown House was used as a venue for one of the first ICA Summer School’s in the 1930’s.

In 1945 Mrs Lentaugn sold Newtown House and land to the Irish Tourist Board who renovated the premises and opened the Tearmann Hotel. It was sold again to Mr. Con Smith in 1949 and again to The Kellogg foundation.  It is said that while attending a dinner party, Muriel Gahan overheard Mr Kellogg say that he wished to educate the people of Ireland. She, being a head- strong ICA lady, told Mr Kellogg she knew of the very place he was looking for-having attended the summer school there. She told him that if he invested on behalf of the ICA that they contribute strongly towards the educating of the people of Ireland. The Kellogg foundation entrusted the property to the Irish Countrywomen’s Association for “The health, education and welfare of the people of Ireland”.

An Grianán meaning the” sunny place” was then born in 1954. A Committee report from the time stated “ We do not set out to run a College in the generally accepted use of the word, nor  to turn out scholars or experts , but we know  that in the light of our work during our short stay at An Grianán,  visitors will go home with the desire to learn more and the will to do more about all  they have seen, done and experienced.”
Because of An Grianán various owners the building and its rooms have 18th, 19th and 20th century influences with new and old rooms being constantly rebuilt and updated. The most recent updates occurred this year to the bar, the demonstration kitchen, the reception area and the dining room. The bed rooms are currently in the process of being brought up to date with en-suites and refurbishments. 
The house today is still a hive of activity with classes being held by both ICA and non ICA members. It is available for events such as weddings, business meetings, conferences, tour groups and weekends away. Visitors to the House always complement it on its warmth and beautiful setting.  It is a building that is loved and admired. The grounds of An Grianán also house The Muriel Gahan Museum, A Garden Centre, Tea Rooms, Tennis Courts and quick access to the local beach.
This week An Grianán Celebrates its 60th year with the ICA.  Here’s to more to come!

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sugar Craft

Sugar craft is essentially 3D cake decoration and can be done with fondant, chocolate or sugar paste. I love baking but never have decorated my cakes with anything beyond icing sugar and some sprinkles. With that in mind, I attended last Monday’s taster craft class in central office to add some creativity to my baking creations.

I brought with me some, sugar paste, icing sugar, a sponge cake, a rolling pin and a cake board. The class started off with Edward Hayden demonstrating some sugar craft basics and design tips. 

 Here’s how I got on…
I had never iced a cake with sugar paste before and found covering the cake without ripping the icing quite difficult, I had to attempt this three times before perfecting it. Deciding on a design and making the flowers to decorate the cake was a lot of fun and with more time I certainly would have tried out more elaborate designs with all the equipment Edward had brought along with him.

It made for a very enjoyable 2 hours. Everyone left with cakes almost too beautiful to eat.

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

For more information about Edward and his recipes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fabric Boxes

Fabric covered boxes are a stylish storage solution that can be made to suit any room theme, colour scheme or personal preference. They also make gifts to friends and family that extra bit special.

Here’s how I got on making fabric box’s at An Grianán with Mary Coonan.

The Kit, starting at €12 depending on box size, contained pieces of board and instructions. There was also glue, Masking tape, and a vast collection of fabrics to choose form. I chose the A4 box, perfect for storing documents, and fan patterned fabric to suit the colour scheme and style of my room.

Mary was always on hand to give face to face instruction and when combining that with the written instructions getting the perfect box was fool proof. The only troublesome part of this process is that the glue gets everywhere but this is quickly fixed with a damp cloth.

Mary, as always, had a very extensive selection of fabrics and items to suit all personal preferences and price ranges. Above are some of the other boxes made by my class’s mates that day.

So go ahead! Why not make a box for your nieces wedding shoes, for your son’s gadgets, for you aunt’s pearls. Or just some wonderful stylish storage for yourself.

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

Mary Coonan is the owner of Gléasta which offers a range of unique handmade handbags, and gifts for all occasions. Marys Items can be found at An Grianán and ICA events