Letterpress Courses

I will be teaching a number of courses in letterpress over the coming months. These include both one day short courses in Graphic Studio Dublin and ten and eleven week evening courses in Distillers Press at the National College of Art & Design.

Saturday 20 September – one day beginners course in Graphic Studio Dublin.
Tuesday 23 September – eleven week evening course in Distillers Press, NCAD.
Sat 22 & Sun 23 November – two day Christmas Card course in Graphic Studio Dublin.
Tuesday 6th January 2015 – ten week evening course in Distillers Press, NCAD.

The details of each course are outlined below with details of how to book:


metal paragraph


Short Courses in Graphic Studio Dublin

Please note there is a minimum requirement of 4 participants, if not reached course is subject to cancellation. A full refund will be issued in this event.

The full range of Graphic Studio courses can be viewed and booked online here

Date: Saturday 20 September, 10am – 4pm.
6 participants

Suitable for beginners and intermediate.
Students will learn how to set and print a small paragraph using letterpress.


Christmas Card
Dates: Saturday & Sunday 22 & 23 November, 10am – 4pm.
6 participants

Suitable for beginners and intermediate.
Students will learn how to make a celebratory or invitation card using both letterpress and linocut. The first day will be spent typesetting and printing the cards. During the second day the image will be cut and added to make a finished piece in a short edition.




Longer Courses in Distillers Press

Distillers Press Courses are administrated by CEAD, the Continuing Education Department in NCAD. Bookings are taken by CEAD and the application form and full information can be found in their brochure. Applications for courses are accepted from August 1st until September 4th 2014 thereafter you can check with the office administrator to establish places left on courses. As with the courses in Graphic Studio, there is a minimum requirement of participants needed to run the course and a full refund will be issued if the course cannot proceed. 

Click here to download CEAD brochure


V/C 508 Letterpress Printing – INTRODUCTORY

From 23 September 2014
Course Fee €315
Tuesday (Semester I), 6.30–9pm
8 Students

This course will cover the basic techniques of letterpress printing: type setting with metal and wood type, locking up for print, registration, lino cut, multiple colour relief printing and producing short editions using a proofing press. The eleven week programme, offers a fantastic opportunity to gain access to Distillers Press, the only working letterpress facility in third level education in Ireland. Those with experience in graphic design / typography / print may find the course particularly interesting but prior knowledge of design is not required. The course will begin with an induction to the workshop, an overview of letterpress printing with examples of artists’ & designers’ work, an explanation of hand setting and an introduction to the use of the press. A number of short projects will follow, to explain the processes and then participants will be encouraged to create their own work under supervision. This can take the form of small editions of prints, posters, simple books, cards or stationery. The course will provide an excellent overview of the processes and materials involved in letterpress printing. A certain amount of quality paper will be provided to begin the course and then additional sheets may be purchased as it progresses.
Course duration: 11 weeks


V/C 509 Letterpress Printing – INTERMEDIATE

From 6 January 2015
Course Fee €295
Tuesday (Semester II), 6.30–9pm
8 Students

This ten week course is aimed at those who have completed the introductory course or have experience with setting metal and wooden type. Those individuals with a background in graphic design / typography / print / literature may find this course particularly interesting. This course offers an opportunity to access the Distillers Press and its fantastic collection of over 500 cases of wood and metal type. Participants will build on the basic techniques of hand setting and with tutor guidance, undertake research and work on one large project or set of small projects. This limited edition could take the form of prints, posters, booklets or cards and can involve typography or illustration or a combination of both.

Projects will be suggested but participants will also be encouraged to research and develop individual work under supervision. As well as typography-based projects, participants can make use of other relief methods such as printing from lino cut and digitally designed plates, as well as printing with multiple colours and hand inking.

The course will provide an excellent overview of the processes and materials involved in letterpress printing and offers the participant a chance to develop a larger project over time. Participants can research their own paper stocks or suitable sheets may be purchased from Distillers Press as the course progresses. An archive of previous work made in Distillers Press may be viewed on the website www.distillerspress.com
Course duration: 10 weeks


wood type

RHA Annual Exhibition

I was delighted to hear that one of my prints has been selected for exhibition in the RHA Annual Exhibition this year.

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‘Watching the evening invade the avenue’ is one of six images in my limited edition book ‘Eveline’ based on the short story from James Joyce’s Dubliners. It is a two colour reductive linocut and was printed on Zerkall paper in an edition of 20 prints. The image depicts Eveline, at the beginning of the story, weighing up her choices of running away with her lover or staying at home as her mother would have wished. You can read more about the book here.

This is the 184th Annual Exhibition and will take place in the RHA Gallagher Gallery, Ely Place from May 26 to August 17. You can visit their website for further details and opening hours nearer the date. www.rhagallery.ie

It’s very exciting to be selected for such a prestigious exhibition and I’m already looking forward to Varnishing Day!

Six Linocuts

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If ever you go…

‘If Ever You Go – a map of Dublin in Poetry and Song’ is the book chosen for the One City One Book celebrations this year. Edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth it contains a wide selection of poems and lyrics that, in some way or other, pay homage to different areas and streets about Dublin.

Following on from last year’s very successful day for Strumpet City, I’ll be back in the National Print Museum on April 27th as part of their One City One Book Event.  There will be readings from the book in the morning, a talk by the editor Gerard Smyth in the afternoon and print demos from me and some of the retired printers and volunteers throughout the day.

To promote and mark the event I printed a limited edition letterpress and linocut print.  A gradient of blues is covered by a silhouette of Patrick Kavanagh by the canal, and the title of the book (from the opening line of his poem ‘If ever you go to Dublin Town’) overprinted in an italic Caslon.

The print is on sale from the Print Museum shop and is limited to 35 copies.

For more information on the event visit the National Print Museum website: http://www.nationalprintmuseum.ie/visit-us/event-calendar/









Wild Flowers from Nature

Following a three week residency in Belfast Print Workshop, I have an exhibition in their gallery from 6th March to 30th March, 2014. ‘Wild Flowers from Nature’ includes linocutting, letterpress, etching and screenprints.

‘Wild Flowers from Nature’ is a book of flower paintings by Katharine and Frederica Plunket (different spelling!) which they painted on their many travels throughout Europe as well as at home in County Louth. They lived in Ballymascanlon and a number of the drawings relate to flowers growing in the grounds of the house. Frederica died in 1886 and in 1903 Katharine collected the drawings into a leather bound book and donated it to the Museum of Science and Art, Dublin; it was later transferred to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and is now held in their library. Katherine died in 1932 at the age of 112 and a little over ten years later another Plunkett family moved into the house. My father recalls his mother pointing out the flowers that would have remained from Katharine Plunket’s time. Based on the flowers of the book and my own photos from the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, Kilmacurragh and Belfast, I have produced a small collection of etchings and screenprints which are now on exhibition in Belfast Print Workshop Gallery. You can read more about the work in progress here.

In addition, my recent book ‘Eveline‘, James Joyce’s short story from Dubliners with six linocuts will also be on show, as well as my book ‘Night Prayer’ and its accompanying seven linocuts and fourteen etchings.

This is my first solo show and I’m delighted to be exhibiting in Belfast Print Workshop. The show was opened by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who also took time to visit the workshop and make his own screenprint! Thanks to all who braved the bad weather to see the show and to those who travelled to see it, it is much appreciated! The exhibition continues until 30th March.




Eveline is a short story from James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’. It is a beautiful and poignant short story and one that stays with you long after you’ve read it. It was first printed in 1904 in the ‘Irish Homestead’ and ten years later in 1914 as part of ‘Dubliners’.

Last year I wanted to make a book around two small etchings and revisited this story as a possible text to accompany them. Instead I decided to make new prints in response to this text and produce a limited edition letterpress printed book.

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Six Linocuts


Six Linocuts

Six linocuts take selected scenes from the story and are presented in the book with an accompanying quotation. The linocuts are presented in their own section, before the main text so that they can be seen independently and not purely as illustration. I used my family for the figures in the story, in particular images of my sister and my grandmother for the figure of Eveline and my brother-in-law and my boyfriend for Frank, the young sailor who wants Eveline to run away with him to Buenos Ayres. My own surroundings provided the inspiration for the street views and the objects ‘over the broken harmonium’. A short introduction to the book outlines these references and some further background to the original publication in 1904.

Printing the text


One Dubliner

The prints are followed by the full text of the story set by hand and printed letterpress.

The book was printed at Distillers Press, the letterpress facility at the National College of Art & Design as I came to the end of my year as Designer in Residence in the Autumn of 2013. It was printed on an Adwest Western Double Crown Proofing Press and a FAG Swiss Proof 40 on 170gsm Zerkall mould made letterpress paper. The text was set by hand in 14pt Garamond Roman and Italic with titles in 18pt Garamond Swash Italic. The metal type was cast at Hand & Eye Letterpress in London, where I spent a fantastic three months in 2011. The linocuts fill the page and two are also used for the binding of the book.

14pt Garamond Roman

The book has been sewn by hand and quarter bound in grey cloth and Zerkall 145gsm paper by the wonderful Duffy Bookbinders. Each book is presented in a cloth covered slip case. A deluxe version is presented in a larger slip case in beige/gold cloth with a portfolio of three flat prints from the book.

The book was available for the first time at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair November 2nd & 3rd, 2013 at Oxford Brookes University and I was delighted with the compliments received! It was also exhibited in Graphic Studio Gallery, Temple Bar, Dublin, as part of the Winter Exhibition from December 5, 2013 to January 25, 2014.

The full selection of prints was exhibited for the first time in Belfast Print Workshop Gallery, March 6–30, as part of my exhibition ‘Wild Flowers from Nature’.

I’m delighted that ‘Watching the evening invade the avenue’, one of the prints from the book, has been selected for exhibition in the RHA Annual Exhibition this year from May 26 to August 17.

Both versions of the book and all prints are available for sale.



A Natural Selection

I am delighted to be part of this exhibition with Graphic Studio Dublin and the National Botanic Gardens, ‘A Natural Selection’. 100 artists were asked to respond to any aspect of the gardens and produce a small print in an edition of 100. All the prints are the same size of 12cm x 13cm on a page of 28cm x 32cm and all are just €100.


‘Wrenn’s Nest’ is based on a quick photo snapped as my niece (the Wrenn in question) climbed through the branches of the Cryptomeria Japonica Elegans in Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens, Co Wicklow. A fantastic natural playground that attracted every child from the nearby picnic tables and provided them each with their own secret garden to explore.

I had planned to do another image and was even in the process of etching it when a summer picnic brought us to Kilmacurragh and my niece began clambering all over the branches of this fantastic tree, the Cryptomeria Japonica Elegans. Though it appears to be a clump of smaller trees, when you duck inside you discover a great array of branches emanating from the same source. A few photos on the phone and I had a new subject for my print.


I used a copper sulphate and salt solution to etch two aluminium plates. A hard ground was used for the line and open bite for the tonal areas.



A sepia shade was used for the first plate and a blue and black mix for the other.



The prints were then editioned – though they’re not asking for the full 100 from us just yet!


(Above photo courtesy of A Natural Selection Facebook page)

The Exhibition opened Thursday 14 November and drew a great crowd and a fantastic number of sales. It continues daily until 5 December. I’ll be there myself on 3 December, invigilating for the day.

All the prints can also be viewed here on the Natural Selection website so you can decide what you like and have your credit card ready! Or if you can’t make the exhibition you can buy the artwork online here.

It is hoped the exhibition will travel into next year. After the exhibition closes in the Botanic Gardens it will open in Greenacres in Wexford and the prints will also be available through Graphic Studio Gallery in Temple Bar, Dublin.

You can follow A Natural Selection on Twitter @GsdNatural and like their Facebook page for more updates and information. 


Night Prayer: A Contemporary Book of Hours

Night Prayer: A Contemporary Book of Hours was my masters project and the culmination of two years of research, design and print-making. The hand-made book was produced in a limited edition of twenty copies, containing etchings, lino prints, digital and letterpress printing. Focussing on the text of Night Prayer, each day’s prayer is introduced by an illustrative section depicting the life cycle of a particular flower or fruit.

Uniting my interests in design, print-making, book-making and my religion, I took the theme of the Books of Hours and the text of The Divine Office as the subject matter of the book with the hope that I could give a new and suitable presentation of the text, based on the idea of an illuminated prayerbook but using a mixture of traditional and modern printing techniques.

The Books of Hours, illuminated manuscripts based on the breviary, were the bestseller of medieval times. They were famed for their decorative initials, elaborate miniatures and floral borders which surrounded the text of the psalms, hymns and scripture readings. Made for the laity rather than those in religious life, they varied from small pocket-sized prayerbooks for the masses to highly skilled and beautifully bound large manuscripts that were produced for an individual wealthy patron.

Consulting with religious and laity who use these prayers in their daily life, in particular Fr Damian McNeice the master of ceremonies to the Dublin Diocese, I decided to focus on just one of the ‘hours’, Night Prayer. Unlike the other daily prayers which follow the church calendar and are said in a four week rotation, Night Prayer follows a constant weekly pattern throughout the year, with some small changes for Eastertide.

A number of printing techniques were used in the execution of the book and can be seen in the short film above. Presentation of the text in a logical but interesting manner was of utmost importance and was achieved with segmenting the book into daily sections, each introduced by an illustrated piece: a six page fold out combination of etchings and five colour reductive lino prints.

These prints illustrate the life of a particular plant, most with a Christian significance and from my own surroundings, documented over a number of months as the plants developed. Following the seasons, the images depict the plant as it grows flowers, fruits and seeds, emulating the day as Morning Prayer leads to Evening Prayer and to Night Prayer and its associations with sleep and death. These sections are enclosed in a slightly transparent transmarque crystal paper that was printed letterpress with hand-gilding which compliments the etch on the following page.

The text was printed digitally, by GP Digital, and decorated with the psalm numbers printed letterpress using wooden type. The titles for each day and the colophon were hand set in metal type and printed letterpress. Letterpress printing was completed at Distillers Press in the Department of Visual Communication, NCAD, under the expert guidance of Seán Sills. An additional four prints of each etching and linocut were also produced.

The book and selected prints were exhibited in the end of year Degree Show in the Department of Visual Communication in NCAD in 2011. It was selected for exhibition in the RDS Student Arts Awards and the travelling show that followed that year. It was also exhibited in the IDI Graduate Awards exhibition and won the masters category. I was invited to exhibit it in ‘Crafting Type’ in 2012 and, as part of the NIVAL artist book collection, it was included in two exhibitions in the NCAD Gallery and the National Print Museum. The book is is the collections of the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Library, NUI Maynooth and a number of private collectors. The book and the full selection of 21 prints were shown for the first time earlier this year at my solo show ‘Wild Flowers from Nature’ at Belfast Print Workshop.

The page size is 190mm x 265mm and the book is printed on a Zerkall mould made acid-free letterpress paper and a Transmarque Crystal paper. Striking red end papers were printed letterpress and the book was hardbound in a tan cloth by Duffy Bookbinders, finished with a gold emboss and slip cover.

Irish Print Awards 2011 ‘Print of the Year’ & ‘Books’ category
Masters Award, Institute of Designers in Ireland Graduate Awards 2011