MY DUNDALK LIFE: ‘I still have hope for the St Nicholas Quarter renovation in Dundalk’

Sarah McKenna, Artist

Tia Clarke


Tia Clarke

MY DUNDALK LIFE: ‘I still have hope for the St Nicholas Quarter renovation in Dundalk’

Sarah McKenna, Artist

Sarah McKenna is a renowned potter working out of Bridge Street Studios in Dundalk. Her work has been presented to many dignitaries including President Mary McAleece and Leo Varadkar. See:

What’s your favourite thing about Dundalk?

Our location and our beautiful scenery are something that is underappreciated by the rest of Ireland but my favourite thing about Dundalk is having my family and friends here.

What would your perfect day in the local area be — and why?

There are so many perfect days in Dundalk - cycling with my boys, rounders in the park, hiking with my scouts, drinks and music with my pals, sitting in my own yard enjoying the Irish climate and of course making pottery in my studio.

What would you like to change about Dundalk?

The current road works in the town centre are a bit of a pain however I think the streetscape will be massively improved. I still have hope that the council will secure funding to bring the redevelopment right to the Newry bridge as in the original plans and give St Nicholas Quarter the revamp it so badly needs.

What annoys you about the town?

Dog poo - everywhere. To add to it I have recently spotted a lot of dog poo bagged up but left lying on the street.

What plans do you have for the rest of the year?

Alongside supplying shops and selling on my website I have been recently working with large companies making corporate gifts and awards. In 2019 I am hoping to work with more businesses particularly Dundalk based companies. I have been enjoying customising pieces from small tea light holders for goody bags to making the Louth Enterprise of the Year Awards.

In between that, I am taking my scout troop (Buíon Setanta) to Charnwood International Jamboree in England in July, we love a good jamboree.

How would you describe Dundalk people?

Generous, kind and ready to help out when needed and we are fiercely proud of our wee town and our people.

What local amenities could Dundalk do with?

I would love to see our waterways and waterfronts developed and used as recreation areas.

What’s your first memory of Dundalk?

I remember as a small child being in Dunnes Stores in Park St and getting lost from my mother for probably all of 20 seconds, Someone picked me up and stood me on top of a bay full of tee shirts and asked me to point out my mammy - she was right beside me!

What's your favourite story you've heard about Dundalk?

There are great scary stories of dead nuns and the devil in Seatown. My favourite story is of my mum and my uncle walking home in the dark as kids and hearing a low rattling noise coming down the street towards them as they were deciding which direction to run, out of the darkness came a teenager on roller skates.

What's your favourite Dundalk slang/phrase?

Holy Moley - so expressive!

Where is your favourite pub in Dundalk and why?

I am not so good at favourites, I love the spirit store for gigs and I love meeting the gang in Toale’s.

What do you think of the current arts and culture scene in Dundalk?

I think the music and drama scene are really developing in Dundalk but I think we could do more for emerging artists, both An Tain and Creative Spark have wonderful artist in residence programs however I would love to see more opportunity for artists to exhibit and sell there work throughout the year. In Louth Craftmark we have been working on developing our Winter Fair, in Bellurgan Park in November.

This year will be our third Winter Fair and it’s an important platform for local artists, designers and makers to engage with the public.

Would you encourage more people to use the facilities in Bridge Street?

We love having visitors in Bridge Street Studios and we now open every Saturday afternoon from 12.30 - 5.30. We have a gallery and shop on the first floor where you can view and buy beautiful art and craft made in situ.

Most of us supply galleries and shops around the country and never see where our pieces go, so it is a real treat for us to meet local customers.