Ciarán Ó Braonáin
With a workshop close to Delamere Forest, cabinet maker Ciarán finds inspiration for his exquisite creations in his own backyard
T hey say that from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow. And nowhere is that more true than inside the Alvanley workshop of cabinet maker and woodcraftsman Ciarán Ó Braonáin.
Inspired by Delamere Forest and the Cheshire countryside that is on his doorstep, he takes blocks of the finest solid walnut, oak and ash and transforms them into beautiful bespoke tables, chairs and gun boxes for his clients.
His handcrafted creations don’t look out of place in castles, stately homes and the mansions of the rich and famous, while his gun boxes, which are made to measure to fit inside the boots of Land Rovers and other 4x4s and include luxury hospitality boxes for glasses, drinks and cigars, are popular with Cheshire’s sporting gun and shooting set.
Ciarán, who lives in nearby Ashton Hayes with wife, Claire, and their children Sophie, Molly and Harry, says: “I was born in Dublin, but spent a lot of summers during my childhood on farms and messing about in the woods and countryside near Celbridge, in County Kildare. I suppose that set me up early on; it gave me a love of nature and the natural world.
“My dad, who is very practical himself, realised that even as a young lad I was creative and good with my hands, so he encouraged me a lot.
“I did well in woodwork at school and it seemed natural to go on to do a degree in furniture
“It may sound a little obvious, but I get my inspiration from everything that’s around us,” Ciarán says. “My designs are all about shape. If I’ve got a new commission, I try not to overthink the design, instead it might be something simple like a church spire or a beautiful curve on a building that I see walking home and that I like.
“I’ve got two working cocker spaniels that can usually be found milling around the workshop with me. They also need a lot of walks and I usually try to get into the forest a few times a week with them. So many of my designs have been inspired by trees and woodland in Delamere and the Cheshire countryside that is on my doorstep. It’s about being observant and seeing the extraordinary in the everyday.”
A qualified teacher, and former tutor in carpentry at Reaseheath College, near Nantwich, Ciarán runs weekend courses for both beginners and more intermediate wood craftsmen from his workshop.
“Whether I’m teaching a 16-year-old straight out of school, or a more mature student who is
another dining table for a client who wanted a statement piece for their French holiday home. With a deep blue resin river on the table top, it has been specifically designed to complement and enhance the interior décor and dimensions of their existing dining room.
“I know lots of my clients really enjoy seeing their ideas come to fruition and they like the fact they know they are getting a one-off. All my pieces, whether they be a table, chair, clock or an abstract sculpture are individual. There will be nothing like them anywhere else in the world, which is very satisfying.
“Even if I’m creating a functional item, I like to think of each piece as a work of art.”
ABOVE: Ciarán putting finishing touches to his latest walnut hospitality box, for a local polo enthusiast LEFT: Preparing a piece of live edge burr oak for his next dining table project OPPOSITE: Mallow and Maddie in the workshop
The beautifully crafted walnut hospitality box For more on Ciarán’s furniture and courses go to cheshirewoodworking.co.uk