The death has occurred of Gráinne McLaughlin of Breeogue Pottery

Posted 24.08.21

DCCI are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Gráinne McLaughlin of Breeogue Pottery. Gráinne accomplished a great deal, and created many wonderful works - which are treasured in homes across Ireland and further afield. Gráinne will be greatly missed by the craft community.

Our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

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A Personal Message from Rachel Quinn - Board Member, Design & Crafts Council Ireland

It is with deep sadness that I am writing today to remember the professional life of Gráinne MacLoughlin of Breeogue pottery, whose life has been cut short and who is gone too soon, leaving behind great sadness for her beloved family and all the life that could have been. In her far too short life, Gráinne accomplished a lot and has left a prolific amount of her wonderful pieces which are treasured in so many homes. Gráinne was one of the truest studio potters I ever had the pleasure of knowing. Gráinne was an unassuming woman with a very gentle nature and kind heart who had a steely determination and an accompanying fire in her belly.

Gráinne started her professional journey by studying Art in Sligo IT and Letterkenny IT where she decided that pottery was where her passion lay. Gráinne undertook the ceramics course at Thomastown, following which she worked for several of the leading pottery studies Geoffrey Healy, Judy Greene, Breeda Smith and Michael Kennedy. It was during Gráinne’s last apprenticeship with Michael Kennedy, back in her beloved Sligo, that she met her future husband, Tom Callery, such a love story of two potters meeting and forging their journey ahead together. Gráinne and Tom set up their business together with separate distinct styles, which like themselves, complemented each other in every way. They worked together to create what many dream of, their own studio where they could imagine, design and create work which reflected their interests and sentiments. To run a pottery studio is to completely intertwine your life and work, there is no separation. It is a privilege to spend your days involved in this artistic endeavour but it does not come about without nerves of steel and a determination to live your own passion, qualities which Gráinne had in abundance. To see Gráinne, a slight woman, lift up a board of jugs, flexing her muscles as she went about her business was a sight to behold.

Gráinne set up her pottery in the outbuildings of her family home at Breeogue House. A more idyllic setting you would be hard pressed to find, being nestled between Strandhill and Ballisodare Bay. The location for Gráinne’s pottery was perfect. Whenever you visited Gráinne at the pottery it was always a hive of activity. Lots of boards of pots in various stages of the pottery process, new experimental work being progressed, her wonderful girls, Caoilfhinn and Lucy, in and out and an odd chicken roaming about outside. Gráinne was deeply embedded in her community and was deeply appreciated personally and professionally in the Breeogue / Ransboro area. Gráinne was a founder member of the Made in Sligo craft collective and was always generous with her time and active in pursuing every project the collective was involved with. Gráinne was a member of the Design and Crafts Council’s Education panel teaching Craft Ed projects in many Sligo schools and with some of the resulting work exhibited in Collins Barracks.

Gráinne’s business gained many accolades over the years from awards at Showcase, to being selected as a studio for the Economusee which is an initiative to promote workshops which demonstrate traditional techniques at their core and which translate to a living museum. Only six Irish businesses were chosen and Breeogue being the only craft business. The selection of Gráinne’s pottery was a testament to how Gráinne welcomed visitors and was a recognition that Gráinne really was the authentic studio potter. Gráinne was always willing to give of her time to people and reaped the rewards for her welcoming nature, creating many loyal customers.

Gráinne’s work has come on a journey from her initial tabletop range, her work changed and morphed over the years. Gráinne’s recent work is confident and playful and truly reflective of her interest in the natural world with her latest range being inspired by the summer dragon flies Gráinne observed at the river at the end of her beautiful garden. Her most favoured colour palette was turquoise and blue which she used to create great depth and complexity in her work. Coupled with a deep understanding of her medium and the master craftswoman’s touch, each and every piece of Grainne’s work is outstanding. In Grainne’s own words “studio produced ceramics are about uniqueness”. While Gráinne will be greatly missed by the craft community she will be missed beyond words by her family. Deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gráinne’s husband, Tom, her girls Caoilfhionn and Lucy, her Mum Ena, her siblings Orlaith, Niall, Seamus, Paul and Ronan, and to all of Gráinne’s extended family and her friends. We will all miss Grainne’s gentle and light nature as a presence in the world.

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