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With a c. 30-year interest in local and family history and as a collector of antiquarian manuscripts, books, maps, photographs etc. of historical Irish interest for just as long Tomás O’Cadhain, in true Irish entrepreneurial spirit, decided in late 2010, to turn his hobby into a business – and registered ‘Olde Ireland’ as a business.
A career hands-on ‘technical’ person who returned to academia in the early 1990′s Tomás, inspired by old-time and versatile craftsman with a shared local history interest, also decided at that time to change careers and turn his technical expertise into ‘traditional craftsmanship’. Travelling widely, visiting countless local craft exhibitions (plus a number of international ones!) he observed the ever expanding range of creative crafts genius (both in Ireland and abroad) – and also observed how computers and ‘new technology’ were being increasingly combined with traditional craftsmanship to assist production, output and efficiency…and to further develop and enhance the world of crafts.
Still searching for a suitable business name Tomás set up business in a bedroom and garage of his home in late 2007 and spent the first eight months designing and compiling new products. A disastrous fire, started by a faulty hot press timer switch in his home and which caused extensive damage, brought his new business to a halt in May 2008. Thankfully, practically all his antiquarian books, maps etc survived – they being carefully locked away in a special fire protection cabinet. In temporary accommodation for almost a year during home reconstruction Tomás utilised some of this time to examine new technology that might assist his business and when back in action again in Summer 2009 (but now renting a small enterprise unit in Galway City) he invested in his first laser engraving machine in September 2009.
Working with materials like old salvaged ‘Blue Bangor’ roof slates, old reclaimed hardwoods (i.e. from old salvaged boats), cork tiles (constructed from finely minced pieces of the cork tree) and other such materials he spent the next year experimenting on reproducing images. photographs, maps and documents of historical interest onto these old materials – like engraving old Ordnance Survey maps, old town/village photographs, old enumerated census documents etc. It was in these experiments Tomás finely tuned his ‘Olde Ireland / Éire Ársa’ idea and its product range – all craft products produced would be linked with people, places and events of Irish History and Heritage from c. 100 years ago – the ‘e’ in the Olde signifying ‘old’ ‘old’.