Monday 23 October 2017

Blinged-out beads have mass appeal at RDS

BRONAGH O'HAGAN

Fashioned from gold and silver and semi-precious gemstones, they are rosary beads for the devout Catholic who has everything.

Ostentatious? Perhaps. But the wonderful craftsmanship and ingenuity sparked interest and orders at the International Eucharistic Congress in the RDS.

"They start at about €195. Most of them here are under €300 but the really high-end range, made with semi-precious stones like lapis and the citrine, are €360 . . . and cheap at the price," according to craftswoman Mary Varilly, whose range of handcrafted rosary beads were on display in the Main Hall of the Dublin venue.

She said that her trip to the exhibition at the Congress has been a success.

"From a purely economic point of view I've covered the cost of the stand, which is the first thing . . . and I have made a lot of contacts and that's a lovely bit of it."

She confessed, however, that "a lot of people get a heart attack when they see the price". She pointed out that it can take around seven hours over two days to create the rosary beads, which she makes from either gold, silver or bronze using high-quality, semi-precious stones.

The Christian use of beads in reciting prayers began in medieval European monasteries and spread as often innumerate worshippers began using them to help keep track of their prayers.

Ms Varilly began her business of making rosary beads after being approached by a man in a cafe who wanted a set to wear as a necklace.

One of the more colourful exhibition stands on display last week was headed by Jackie Kennedy and her colleagues from Elevation Vestments, a 15-employee company based in Belfast that creates bespoke vestments for priests.

This was the company's first exhibition and Jackie says that they were attracted to the event by the many international and Irish priests that were going to be in attendance.

She says most of their business comes from within the island of Ireland but that they are hoping to start exporting very soon.

She said business throughout the week had been "promising" and added: "A lot of people are very glad to see vestments that are made in Ireland and so we are getting a great reaction from people."

What a priest could expect to pay for a 'one-off' vestment design depends on the intricacy of the desired embroidery.

"They are bespoke so basically we are hoping that priests will send their preferences to us and, depending on what they pick, would depend on the price but they would go from anything from £300 (€370) up to £1200 (€1480)."

Sunday Independent

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