Weekend Highlights

Published March 11, 2014
At Home & Living

Luck ‘O the Irish: Museum of Glass Exhibit Inspires

by Deanna Duff
seattle child article photo
"Drone" by Róisín de Buitléar and Fred Curtis.
Photo by Deanna Duff.

seattle child article photo
"Steed," by Róisín de Buitléar and Fred Curtis.
Photo by Deanna Duff.

March marks the burst of all things green – the arrival of spring and of St. Patrick’s Day.

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass offers a chance to celebrate the Irish beyond leprechauns and four-leaf clovers: The Museum is the first to host “CAUTION! Fragile. Irish Glass: Tradition in Transition,” a brand-new exhibit of contemporary Irish glasswork. The result inspires curiosity and imagination for all ages. 

“My culture resonates with me,” says Róisin de Buitléar, the show’s mastermind. “It’s my personal love of my country and culture, the massive wealth of information and Irish talent that inspired this show.” 

“CAUTION!” is a collaboration between de Buitléar, Ireland’s preeminent female glass artist, and three master craftsmen – Fred Curtis, Eamonn Hartley and Greg Sullivan – who worked at Ireland’s iconic Waterford factory before it closed in 2009. 

The artists drew on inspiration from Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland. Particular favorites are the glass interpretations of Viking swords, axes and spears. Some of the original weapons – also tools and symbols of honor – date to 1st century A.D.

The intricately cut hilts and broad blades glint with the promise of great adventures. The “Steed” sword – almost three feet long – nearly jumps off the wall, ready to be wielded in a young hero’s hands. 

“There are lots of ways that people will be delighted by this show,” says de Buitléar. “Small children will just love the swords and axes! They immediately identify with those pieces. They’ll also love some of the small, humorous drawings and etchings throughout.” 

The exhibit also showcases Celtic trumpets and a series of Irish penannulars, or brooches, engraved with whimsical, rural scenes of Irish life. They depict farms, tractors and children with their canine best friends. 

An audio element further contributes to the museum experience. Visitors can listen to oral histories from Waterford artisans, and original music by Irish musician and singer Liam Ó Maonlaí plays throughout. 

“It’s an extraordinary exhibition. Everyone will walk away with a better understanding and appreciation of Irish culture and history,” says de Buitléar.


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If You Go...

Where: Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma.

When: “CAUTION! Fragile. Irish Glass: Tradition in Transition” runs through Sept. 1.

Cost: General admission $15, museum members $12, students/seniors/military $10.

Contact: 866-468-7386; www.museumofglass.org.

Special Event: The Museum of Glass hosts the all-ages Céilí Mór: Irish Dance Celebration on Saturday, March 22. Enjoy Irish musician and singer Liam Ó Maonlaí performing live with the Carrigaline Celtic Band, guest dancers and snacks.