DCCI are saddened to learn of the passing of Br Ciarán Forbes OSB
It was with great sadness that we learned of the recent passing of Br Ciarán Forbes OSB, a leader in a renaissance of Irish wood crafts across five decades.
He died suddenly on New Year’s Day in Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick. Aged 79, he entered Glenstal in 1961 and celebrated 60 years as a monk in 2021.
His interest in woodturning began when two boys in the Abbey school brought a lathe to the carpentry workshop in 1970. Over following decades he was to help lead a renaissance in Irish wood crafts. He arrived at the Kilkenny Design Workshops in the early 1970s and spent three months in the woodturning workshop there.
Ciarán was a talented woodturner, receiving many awards and accolades. He won the Crafts Council of Ireland silver medal in the RDS Crafts Competition in 1980, designed by Rudolf Heltzel, and the California Gold Medal in 1990 for a large monkey puzzle bowl. His work was purchased under the Crafts Council of Ireland purchase prize, and President Michael D Higgins selected him for an exhibition staged by DesignYard where well-known personalities chose craftspeople.
In a 1996 piece in The Irish Times, he observed: “One of the most exciting aspects of my work is discovering new timbers, their colours and figurings. Going into the woodsheds at Glenstal is for me like discovering valuable old bottles in an abandoned cottage.” Glenstal provided such exotic offerings as tulip trees, handkerchief trees, monkey puzzles, Californian redwoods and eucalyptus.
Ciarán will be greatly missed by the craft community. Our heartfelt condolences to his brothers, sister and family, the Abbot and community of Glenstal Abbey, and wide circle of relatives and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.