PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to those who "refused to be defeated by the economy" at a craft expo which has seen a huge boom in the number of buyers coming through its doors.
More than €20m in sales are expected to be generated at Showcase 2012, which opened at the RDS Main Hall in Dublin yesterday.
The expo -- which runs until Wednesday -- is a crucial trading opportunity for 350 of the country's leading designers, manufacturers and craftspeople showcasing their products.
A total of 5,500 buyers are expected to attend, many of whom are flying in from the US, Japan and Canada.
The event was opened yesterday by the President, who described it as a "celebration of creativity".
"There is a wonderful future for craft in this country if some basic things are developed like connectivity and access and the ability to share ideas and all of that happens here.
"I had the great benefit today of watching people who refuse to be defeated by economic circumstances and it was inspiring," he said.
Among the hundreds of exhibitors was fashion designer Louise Kennedy.
The designer said the expo was a "fantastic opportunity" for fledgling businesses to attract some major national and international buyers.
Also among the exhibitors was jewellery maker Christina Brosnan, who was named the winner of the Creative Island Award on Saturday night.
Christina, from Co Clare, first began designing jewellery as a teenager before a career that included a stint designing the private members' club in Dublin's O2 venue.
In 2010, she decided to go back to her first love.
Silversmith Eileen Moylan's used to design expensive wedding and engagement rings for "Celtic Tiger couples" until she decided to strike out on her own.
Also present was enterprising duo Liz Singleton and Kate Cronin, who run a product design studio called Klickity, specialising in contemporary interior accessories.
They have been showcasing in London and have attracted much interest in their colourful products based around the Japanese art of origami.