Northern Ireland is enjoying a flourishing économusée network.
A crafts and jewellery studio on the famous Causeway Coastal Route has become the latest addition to Northern Ireland’s flourishing économusée network.
Gobbins Crafts Jewellery Studio offers jewellery-making classes, bespoke workshops and courses – and now joins an elite économusée of 11 food and craft artisans who open their doors to share their knowledge, passion, skills and stories.
Run by goldsmith and designer Heather McFadden, the studio is located in Islandmagee, County Antrim, close to The Gobbins, a spectacular cliff top walk regarded as the most dramatic in Europe.
The économusée concept of artisans showcasing their traditional trades and fine crafts in working museums originally started in Québec. With the idea now thriving in Northern Ireland, there is a diverse artisan network to explore, with every location offering unique experiences.
Each économusée is situated on or close by the spectacular Causeway Coastal Route, collectively making up an ideal craft trail for artistic souls, savvy shoppers and the curious alike.
In addition to the Gobbins Crafts Jewellery Studio, the village of Islandmagee is home to the économusée of contemporary watercolour artist Audrey Kyle. Her Art Experience Workshop is ideal for anyone wishing to have some fun with watercolour paints in a unique and relaxing environment.
Further along the Causeway Coast in Glenarm, you can drop into the family-run Steensons jewellery workshop, which is well-known for making numerous pieces that featured in the blockbuster TV series Game of Thrones®.
In the Glens of Antrim, Scullion Hurls is the place to learn about the history of the great Irish sport of hurling and watch the Scullion family produce and hand-finish their fine ash wood hurls.
A mini tour of foodie-based economusées is also possible in the seaside town of Ballycastle, a fantastic stop on the Causeway Coastal Route which is full of beautiful scenery, a thriving town centre and ferry links out to the stunning Rathlin Island.
Here, you can visit Broughgammon Farm, an artisan butchery, shop and café specialising in ethical goat kid meat, veal and seasonal wild game, or savour the legendary sourdough and sweetcakes at Ursa Minor bakehouse. A tour of North Coast Smokehouse, which produces scrumptious smoke-roasted organic salmon and a host of other fine-tasting smoked goods is also available.
The longest-standing économusée in Northern Ireland is Broighter Gold in Limavady, County Londonderry. The healthy rapeseed oil this working family farm produces is used by top chefs, restaurants and international food halls. The product is grown on the field where the Broighter Hoard, a precious collection of Irish gold artefacts from the Iron Age, was discovered.
At this économusée you can see the oilseed rape being transformed into a golden liquid, explore an exhibition area and buy a bottle of oil to take home.
There are three further experiences near the town of Ballymena. The Hot Milk Forge économusée features blacksmithing demonstrations and classes, while both The Creamery Can and Hillstown Brewery provide further rich tastes of Northern Ireland’s food and drink scene.