Letterfrack Students Showcase Furniture in Summer Exhibition

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An exhibition of student furniture has opened on the Letterfrack campus of GMIT. Entitled cruthú – furniture created in Connemara, this students showcase will exhibit a diverse range of uniquely designed and crafted furniture pieces by degree students in GMIT Letterfrack, the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology. The exhibition opened on Wednesday, 19 June, at 5.30pm in the campus gallery by Dr Michael Hannon, Acting President of GMIT and will remain open all summer for public viewing.

Works on display include a creative collection of products, furniture and research, giving visitors an insight into the rich learning that takes place on this unique campus. Items selected are from students on degrees in furniture design, wood technology and the teacher education.

Letterfrack Students Showcase Furniture

Included in this year’s work is a project that was selected for the inaugural James and Mary Ellis Award for Excellence in Making. The Ellis family came to Letterfrack in the 1849 to help improve the lives of the people of the district and though their stay was relatively short, their impact was profound. Their philosophy of and commitment to sustainable practices were ahead of their time. The award was sponsored by The Quaker Friendly Society and a plaque designed by Benson Russel will be mounted to display the winners each year. Author Joan Johnson, who has written extensively about James and Mary Ellis, will be in attendance to present the first award to student Kay Woodcock whose chair was selected as the winning project. The criteria for selection of the award reflected the Ellis ethos and included attention to detail, quality of finish, complexity of making and student commitment and character. The company MJM Marine from Newry also sponsored a cash prize for the student.


Dermot O’Donovan, Head of Centre, GMIT Letterfrack, says “Our summer exhibition is a great opportunity for visitors to get a sense of what happens on campus during the academic year. The projects our students produce as part of their learning are a real fusion of craft, innovation, technology and design. Working with wood as a material is something that we specialise in and the range of techniques used in the furniture pieces give you a great sense of the versatility of wood.

A recent investment in an Irish Hardwood Research Centre, including a portable saw and kiln, has seen an increase in the use of locally grown trees and timber from Clifden, Westport and Kylemore feature in some of the projects. This underlines the value of wood as a sustainable material and gives a real sense of the potential value of woodlands to local communities.”

Career Prospects

Demand for graduate continues to rise and the college boasts a 100% employment rate for graduates seeking work. This year more than 40 companies visited the campus on industry days in a bid to attract both graduates and students for work placement in roles ranging from operations and project management to design and CAD technicians. Others graduates go on to start up their own businesses.

“The fact that all students undertake work placements as part of their courses ensures that we have an excellent connection with our industry partners. We have just redeveloped our programmes and will now offer a year-long work placement to all students.” adds O’Donovan.

Once again, students from GMIT Letterfrack have excelled nationally and third year student Jack Lynch won the Ireland Skills competition in Cabinetmaking this year at the RDS. Jack has also been selected to represent Ireland at the WorldSkills competition in Kazan in Russia in August and is currently going through intensive training in Dun Laoghaire Further Education Institute. Several students have also been nominated for Design and Crafts Council of Ireland awards this year.

The students showcase will be open throughout the summer until 23 August from Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm & 2pm to 5pm.


Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist.
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