Ciarán Ó Braonáin

Cheshire Life - - Cheshire Talent - WORDS: Liz Hull PHO­TOS: Andrew Price

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 cheshire­wood­work­

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