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Stepping Stones Award – Michael J Keane

A creative spirit

Michael is a Clúid resident and one of the recipients of the Stepping Stones Award, this award helps Clúid residents take their lives in a positive direction by supporting their education and training. Michael completed a course on Flame Glass Working and is aiming to set up an artist’s centre in his home town of Ashbourne. Michael tells us about a creative Clúid community in the making.

I have always loved Ashbourne and I have settled into the community really well. I am very involved in local activities on a voluntary basis with the Tidy Towns and the local Broadmeadow River Trust. This gets me out into the community, along with supplying me with plenty of exercise, and we have a fantastic group of volunteers that take part in clean-up days and other activities.

The Stepping Stones Award was an opportunity that really came out of the blue. I read the information on the leaflet and decided to find out more about the terms and conditions of the award on offer. I had no idea if I would be successful in my application for the grant but it was an opportunity I could not ignore as it would mean that a craft close to my heart would possibly become a reality.

I have worked with glass for over 25 years and I’ve always wanted to return to a craft that I spent so long involved with over the years. The Flame Glass Working course is similar to the work I did when I worked in Waterford Crystal, except on a smaller scale and requires a certain dexterity to complete the tasks. I also hope the course will give me some new skills in the area of jewellery making.

Creative arts has been with me throughout all my working and college life. My time with Waterford Crystal was spent creating master pieces for the Irish tourist market. I worked on the tourist trail in Waterford Crystal. This was an amazing feeling as there could be more than 700 tourists watching us work and create master pieces from molten glass.

I hope to set up a creative arts centre that will have up to 10 artists. The centre will be geared towards the tourist market and of course the greater Meath area and beyond. Each artist will operate on a daily basis, creating their master pieces that will be on view to visitors who want to come and see how the craft is made. Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase some of the pieces of art from the individual artist, either at their shop or online.

Without this award, I would not have been able to participate in this course. I would have had to fund myself, and without a regular income to fund the training, this would not have been possible. I could not believe that I received the award and I will always be grateful for the opportunity that Clúid has given me.

It is as simple as this; when I moved into the house in Milltown Meadows, I knew then that everything would change for the better.

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