Hennessy & Byrne join Russborough ranks

Published 09/08/2014 | 00:00

Part of the Hennessy & Byrne range

IT is said that a rolling stone gathers no moss and this is certainly the case for design duo Hennessy & Byrne who are celebrating the relocation of their studio and showroom to the historic grounds of Russborough House in Blessington.

Husband and wife team, Eric Byrne and Jeanine Hennessy, have moved from their former base in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, to an empty stable wing at Russborough which they have renovated.

Eric is a second generation master stonemason. He learned his trade from his father and stone-cutting and carving was always of interest to him, coming from a family tradition of working with granite and marble that spans back more than five decades.

Initially he set about handcrafting headstones and fireplaces and spent most of the Celtic Tiger era fitting granite worktops in houses. However, as the recession set in he had to look elsewhere for work, eventually deciding to produce stone giftware and decorative items made from the likes of Wicklow granite, Kilkenny limestone and Connemara marble.

'Things were going well during the boom times and we got married but then the economy went pear-shaped,' said Jeanine. 'We also had our first child. Eric was self-employed and had a certain skill-set so we had to find something that would work for him. That led us to establishing Hennessy & Byrne.'

Eric explained, 'Jeanine and I established our business in 2013 and, from the very beginning, our aim has been to reintroduce the public to Ireland's beautiful native marble and granite and to bring this exquisite raw material into the home in the form of classic yet functional pieces. We received a tremendous response to our designs and with the story behind our range.'

The pair noticed an advertisement from Russborough looking for a stonemason or glass blower to occupy an old stable wing and they were immediately interested.

'The dream for us was to have a studio and showroom side by side where members of the public could come to see our work being created, learn a little about the fascinating origins of our raw materials and then see the finished product. In April this year we finally got the chance to make this dream a reality with the relocation of our business from Dunboyne to Blessington. We commenced extensive renovations of the beautiful black stone vaults in the Forge Yard, situated in the West Wing of Russborough House, and officially opened our studio in July. We spent around six weeks renovating the place as it needed a good bit of work but it now looks great. It's a fabulous building in a great location,' said Jeanine.

Hennessy & Byrne are in good company among the ranks of the 'Artisans of Russborough', a select group of skilled craftspeople who specialise in various disciplines from ceramics and weaving to woodcarving and metal work. Jeanine readily acknowledges that Russborough makes for the perfect location for their range.

'Having our studio on the grounds of Russborough is a dream come true; we count ourselves to be really fortunate that we can successfully work doing something we love and in such an inspiring environment.'

The Hennessy & Byrne Marble Works is open to the public all year round. For opening hours and information visit www.hennessyandbyrne.com or www.facebook.com/hennessyandbyrne

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