Remembrance, Loss & Solace

I’m delighted to have several christening candles engraved and painted this week, all nearly ready to be sent or delivered but was stopped in my tracks by a lovely priest who phoned me to order a remembrance candle for a baby who sadly died at birth. I was glad to be able to drop all other orders for an hour or so to get the candle with an angel engraved ready for him this afternoon. He travelled some distance to collect it – such kindness! I hope the parents get some solace and peace from the remembrance ceremony and candlelight – my thoughts are with them and other parents who have been bereaved. I’m glad to at least do something small to help by donating 10% on all orders for baby remembrance candles to Feileacháin






School holidays – good time to say “thanks a million”!



I know teachers get an awful lot of presents over the last few days of school and recently parents have been asked not to spend so much money buying presents. Sometimes a simple sincere “thanks” spoken or on a card means more than a bought gift. For years I’ve made presents for my children’s teachers, helpers, bus drivers, and school secretaries . The gifts are always small – usually made the night before holidays – bit like tonight!! This year I’m painting wooden clothes pegs to close a little bag of sweets. If I can find my roll of magnetic tape I’ll stick a bit on the back so the peg can be used for notes on the fridge!

I was delighted to be asked to engrave candles for my friend’s children’s teachers this year. I know 2 of the teachers well so it was almost like giving them the gift myself – but it also meant I knew what the teacher might like! I know miss Fitzpatrick loves frogs of all sorts so she got her frog with matching card and ribbon! I like to personalise my candles and gifts not just with names but learning what the person may be interested in and trying to include aspects of that interest. It’s highly unlikely that the teacher will get another candle exactly like this one!!

Hope we all enjoy the break from uniforms, lunches, homework…and I hope the teachers, helpers, bus drivers and secretaries enjoy their little treat! Their painted pegs can be used again for closing packets of tea/pasta/coffee/cereal……until next year!

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Christenings, Anniversaries and Birthdays!



Delighted to have engraved and painted christening candles for Joshua, Joey & Rena this weekend. Later this week I’ll post some wedding anniversary candles for couples near and very faraway! Don’t want to spoil the surprise!! Lots of teacher thank-you candles and a little boy’s 1st birthday candle. Busy week ahead so because added to this list will be certain special boy’s 10th birthday party, without second daughter who will be away perfecting her français – hopefully eldest post leaving cert sister will step in to help! AND then 3rd daughter is excited at prospect of taking part in 3 school shows!!! Oh I feel tired at the thoughts of tomorrow morning!!

Looking on the bright side

Oh that Monday feeling……….and its Tuesday already!! Bank holidays really have a way of throwing everything out of synch!! However it really was a lovely weekend – Saturday was special with opening of Nartowska school of art exhibition – Milo & Sorcha had work there and it was a pure delight to see their and all Iwona’s students amazing work on display, and for sale!! Sunday was spent with family in Cavan, celebrating joint cousins babies christenings – Saoirse & Ellen. Needless to say they had their own specially designed Christening candles supplied by their rather ancient cousin!! I also had the opportunity to deliver another christening candle to nearby town – I didn’t get around to showing off Ellen & Saoirse’s candles so here’s a pic of another similar one!!

It was wonderful to be able to celebrate such a happy occasion with family, and good weather was a bonus! However my trip “home” was somewhat tinged with sadness as one of the families will be winging back to Canada soon.

Another aspect of my trip was both sad but ultimately full of hope and positivity as I delivered a remembrance/family candle to a wonderful lady who’s son was killed in 2009 – he would have been celebrating his 8th birthday soon so its a difficult time for her. I hope the candle specially designed for her and the family will bring some solace. Her attitude and faith was just amazing – I hope I’m never in her place – yet again I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have 4 fine children all thriving and full of life. Hope you all have a good week, sunshine helping to bring out positivity and appreciation of what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t.




Lighting up your wedding!

Unity CandlesLighting the unity candle is a truly bright moment and signifies the coming together of two people.


The Unity Candle Ceremony is a popular choice for both religious and non-religious ceremonies because it is non-denominational and has no religious significance.

The two outer candles represent your individual lives before today. They represent all that you are from your vast experiences, and they represent your individual families. As you each take a single candle and light the center candle, you will extinguish your individual candles.

Often the Bride will blow out the Groom’s taper candle and the Groom will blow out the Brides taper candle. This represents the closing of the chapters in your individual Books of Life and the beginning of new chapters as you begin to write a new book of Life as wife and husband!

Another way to do this is to allow the two taper candles to continue to burn. By allowing the flame of the two taper candles to remain lit, it represents that the Bride and Groom accept the individuality of each other as a means to fulfilling their commitment to one another.

Alternatively you could have your friends and family participate, give everyone a candle as they enter. When lighting the Unity Candle, each of you turn and share your light with the first row of seated guests on your side. Let the guests share the flame from their own small candle with the person sitting next to them until all the candles are aglow and you are pronounced wife and husband. The minister can suggest that everyone make a good wish for the Bride and Groom and blow out the candles.

If you are creating a new family you may want to include the children in the lighting of the Unity Candle. Often this is done by having the bride and groom light the candle for the children and then everyone lighting the center candle together. This is an excellent way to involve children from a previous marriage.

Having your unity candles personalized will add a special dimension to the ceremony and may reflect the themes and colours of your wedding –  Hand crafted wedding candles will be as original and unique as yourselves –


Wedding candles with Calla Lily, Remembrance Candle & hand painted Name Card

You might consider including children’s names, gift candles for your parents and bridesmaids (and groomsmen too!) ,memorial candles remembering deceased loved ones, favours for your guests and even décor at your wedding reception – consider having personalized globe candles that won’t burn away and can be used again in your home, reminding you of that very special day.


Tip:  Make sure that there aren’t any decorative beads, ribbon or lace around the candles – they can easily catch fire. Consider pre-lighting the taper candles and the Unity candle to make them easier to light in outdoor ceremonies. If your ceremony is outdoors, always have several extra lighters nearby in case the wind decides to blow the candles out. Putting the Unity Candle inside a glass hurricane lamp  or using Globe candles can be very helpful in protecting the flame from the breeze.

Globe Candles

There are other “unity ceremony” traditions that might appeal to others including

Rose Ceremony: A simple unity ceremony where the bride and groom exchange roses. Other variations: the families exchange roses, the bride and groom exchange roses with their families, the bride and groom exchange roses, then present their mothers with the roses.


Wine Ceremony: The bride and groom each take a carafe of wine and pour it into a single glass, which they both drink from.


Water Ceremony: The couple each pour a different colored water into a single glass, creating a third color.


Sand Ceremony: similar to the water ceremony, the bride and groom both pour different colored sand into a glass.


Salt Ceremony: Indian weddings often include a salt ceremony, where the bride passes a handful of salt to her groom without spilling any. He then passes it back to her and the exchange is repeated three times. She then performs the salt exchange with all the members of the groom’s family, symbolizing her blending in with her new family.


Breaking Bread Ceremony: The bride and groom tear off pieces of bread, and then each eat a piece. Sometimes the bread is also shared with family and friends. It symbolizes their future as a family together.


Garland Ceremony or Lei Ceremony: The bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers. This is a common part of Indian weddings, where the ceremony is called varmala or jaimala, and represents a proposal by the bride and acceptance by the groom. It also represents their new unity, blessed by nature. In Hawaian weddings, the bride and groom typically exchange leis. The families may also exchange leis with the couple. Leis represent the love and respect you have for the person you are giving it to, and the unity of the new family.


Circling: In Eastern European ceremonies, the bride and groom circle the altar three times, which are their first steps together as husband and wife. In Hindu ceremonies, couples circle the fire seven times, sealing their bond. The unbroken circle represents the unbroken committment to each other.


Broom Jumping: An African-American tradition that has its roots in slavery times when slaves couldn’t marry. Typically the family places the broom on the ground, and the bride and groom jump over it together. The broom can then decorate a place of honor in their home.


Lasso Ceremony: Lasso or rope is placed around the bride and groom’s shoulders, usually by the officiant. Sometimes rosary beads, or orange flowers are used instead of rope. It can also be placed around the couple’s necks, or wrists.



Celtic Oathing Stone The couple holds or puts their hands on a stone during their vows to “set them in stone (this may be where this phrase comes from!)


My favourite alternative is

Truce Bell. A bell is rung on the wedding day, the happiest day of the couple’s lives and then is placed in a central location in the home. If the couple starts to argue, one of them can ring the truce bell, reminding them both of that happiness and hopefully ending the disagreement quickly!



Here are some wedding reception candle ideas

Candle light is perfect for an evening or night time wedding, you don’t necessarily have to have flowers, but you do need to have candlelight. It adds a lovely incandescent glow and sets an intimate and romantic tone.  You can put votive candles directly inside flower arrangements for a wonderful sparkling effect. Adding light to a flower gives it a really nice glow.

Candles can stand on their own, or in simple hurricane vase or votives that shield them from the wind. Globe candles can be used again and again – the wax globe remains while the candle burns within – you can have the globe personalized with design, names or appropriate quotation – the design and text will be illuminated adding a uniqueness to the display.

Reception candles can also be used to underline the architecture of a building or the shape of a pool, or by running along steps or pathways to invite you guests into a space.

What ever way you decide to decorate, keep it in scale with the space. Engage all the senses. Think about how things will look, feel and smell. Scented candles, fragrant flowers and greenery, and rich fabric will create a quality that is rich and sensual.



Competition advertisement Carlow nationalistLucky winner of prize will receive unique personalized Wedding Candle Premium Set (worth approx €300) which will include Unity candles (set of 3 candles) in a custom made personalized box for safe keeping, remembrance candle (if required), gift candles for parents.  bridesmaids / groomsmen and Small personalized Globe candle for the Main table at the wedding reception.  Closing date for the competition is 5th February  2012 with the Carlow Nationalist


Looking forward, with a glimpse to the past

I may seem a bit obsessed with the dead this week, but I think its so important to remember all those we have loved and lost – they have impacted on our lives and many have shaped the people we are today.  Recently at the annual “blessing of the graves” in my home town it was lovely to see so many people there standing by their tidied family graves, honouring and remembering generations of parents, grandparents and so sadly many  young children and babies.  Despite all the controversy in the church these days this was a dignified understated ceremony and felt very like a real community celebration of remembrance.

My young 8year old son Milo never met either of his grandfathers, and is desperate to know all about them and what they were like.  They would both have been so proud of him – its a shame they’re not around to see this enthusiastic, sporty, intelligent, playful and quite fluent irish speaking boy!  We show him photos of our fathers but it takes more to describe their personalities – Milo is fascinated with the fact that he shares my dad’s passion for lego and making things – so he figures they would have definitely got on well and his other grandfather was a gaelgóir so he’s pleased to know that they could have chatted in irish.  He often wonders if the grandads get to meet in heaven and have discussions about him and his sisters progress in life!  One of his sisters wondered recently what accent my dad had – was it a strong Cavan one like my brother and I found my self saddened realising that we have no video or sound recordings of him – wish I had.  My challenge is to bring a wonderful man to life in my son’s mind so that he knows where he comes from and what characteristics he shares with his grandads.  We regularly visit my dad’s grave and occasionally my father in law’s (because its more difficult to get to) and Milo was moved to tears visiting them – seeing their graves and headstones as his most tangible connection to them.  Unlike his experience we will be able to leave a record of speech, movement and colour – one of the many advantages of our digital age.

In the meantime, we can light a candle of remembrance, shining a light on our past, illuminating our future!

Remembering the Dead

About 8 years ago I was asked to engrave and paint the names of the soldiers who died in the Lebanon on a memorial candle.  The candle was especially made by Larry Kinsella of Moth to a Flame Candles.  It was made in 4 sections to make up an entire sized candle of approx 6ft.  Sadly such a large candle was needed to allow space for the names of the 47 soldierswho died while on UNIFIL duty between 1978 and 2000

I never had the opportunity to see the candle in the Cedar Room of Arbour Hill Church of the Sacred Heart (church of the Defence Forces) until today.  The church always seemed to be closed until by chance when passing I noticed the gate was opened so I had to have a look inside.  I was delighted to finally get to see the candle memorial in place together with other mementos of the Lebanon UNIFIL mission which include a book of photographs and details of all the soldiers.  It is such a peaceful and dignified room that fittingly remembers these men and according to Betty, one of the ladies who look after this room and the church, this is a room that is often visited and very recently the church held the marriage of a son of one of the fallen men and poignantly a bouquet was placed on the open memorial book in his memory on his son’s wedding day.

Army Memorial Candle.     

I was honoured have created part of this fitting memorial and so pleased to finally see it in place.

May they Rest in Peace

Flower power on Candlelight!

I’ve sometimes been asked to engrave and paint customers favourite flowers on candles either for weddings, Naming ceremony, and recently an 80th birthday and golden jubilee.  For weddings the engraved flowers can compliment the real thing!

Wedding Orchids

These square candles were especially ordered for Anita & Philip’s wedding.  Orchids being the flowers on the day.  I usually use pillar type candles, but can source other shapes and sizes when requested.

Personalised Birthday Candle for a Daffodil loving Granny!   This was done recently – not much hope of finding  real daffodils so these make a lovely alternative!

Golden Rose to celebrate a nun’s Golden Jubilee.

Not a flower, but an Acorn symbolising growth and hope for a baby’s naming Candle

Oak Leaf this time – part of the logo of the Seven Oaks hotel in Carlow

This is the top part of a 6ft display candle engraved for a candle company.  This shows the symbol of the Beeswax Candlemakers

Not really flowers, but the new logo of the Gaelcsoil in Carlow incorporates a tree signifying growth with symbols of the ethos and aspects of the school interspersed with the leaves of the tree.

Wedding Candle with interlinked rings and olive branch.  Date is in Irish – its June by the way

Not flowers, but tree again – Symbolic Tree of Life with roots and branches interlinked

Red Rose on a White Wedding Candle with quotation provided by the bride

These candles were for my brother and his wife’s wedding.  The design is based on their wedding invitation and incorporates simple male & female figures and flowers

Another 80th Birthday candle with floral / decorative design – based on a wall hanging designed by Mary’s daughter Anne

These are some examples of nature on Candles – Other flowers which I’ve engraved (but can’t find photos) are Forget me nots, Snowdrops, Daisies….All commissions are accepted and I’ll be delighted to engrave your favourite flowers on candles – whatever the occasion.

The reluctant blogger flickrs into life!

I’ve always been a little reluctant when it comes to rendering my business or life experiences in writing, but here goes!  Its not that I hate blogging, I just find it difficult – it’s so much easier to put photos up on my flickr page which can then link to my personal facebook , Candledesigns on Facebook and……..of course I should be linking them HERE too!  Doh!  I could’ve been apparently blogging for ages if I had to think that through!   Anyway I’ve joined KLCK (Kildare, Laois, Carlow & Kilkenny) bloggers group now –  there’s lots of support, interaction,  ideas, lovely people all blogging to their hearts content, or some just attempting to -just like me.  So I’ve no excuse and even less so now that I’ve given my first presentation to the group at our 2nd Meeting at the Talbot Hotel in Carlow last Monday (9th Aug).

Amanda launching our 2nd KLCK bloggers meeting

Amanda Webb of Spiderworking(one of the founders of the bloggers group) has given me a deadline to get this together by Monday and she has obviously found the kick in the ass I need!  DEADLINE!  I definitely work better when there’s a proverbial carrot at the end of the stick.

Ever since my brother Andrew got me interested in Flickr I’ve been busy adding photos regularly.  He’s an excellent photographer and musician and has made some great photographic connections and indeed won competitions and sold images through Flickr.   It’s worthwhile having a look at some of his work – I would say that wouldn’t I?!!

I’ve been singing the praises of flickr  for ages whenever I attend many of the helpful seminars at Carlow Enterprise board (some presented by the same Amanda).  So Amanda suggested I might present my view of flickr to the all new KCLK bloggers group.  As it was my first presentation, I decided to just talk it through, and avoided tcchnical stuff – such as projectioners and the like!  This approach might have made for boring twitter streaming that Amanda had organised, but it seemed to get the message across that Flickr is extremely user friendly, and perfect for showing one’s work off in a visual way to accompany blogs or in my case to be the blog!!

My most recent uploaded photo

So here’s an abridged version of my presentation:  For those who would like to go straight to the Flickr site tour just click HERE.  You can even set up your account from there.  Enjoy!!

For a more wordy untechnical version – read on!

Flickr is an image and video hosting site owned by Yahoo.  You need a yahoo account/email address to set up your Flickr account.  Its really quite easy to use and remember if you’re already on facebook or any other social networks Flickr is like social networking with photos!  You can share photos with other Flickr’rs and the world or just your friends.  Other flickr members can comment on your photos and vis a versa.  You can link your flickr page or individual photos to your blog or facebook page through yahoo updates or simply by grabbing the link or copying the url and pasting directly.  The help forum or frequently asked questions section is useful if you run into trouble!

  • You can have a free account or pay approx €20 annual fee for professional account.  Advantages of free account over pro account-
  • Free account – you can upload 100mb images per month plus 2 videos.   If you have more than 200 photos loaded up the most recent 200 will only be visible.  You can only join max 10 photo pools/groups.  Small images will only be visible.  Other flickr account holders can comment on your photos as can you – so its quite interactive.
  • Pro Account Costs approx €20 per year – if you upgrade from free account all photos, tags and comments will transfer
  1. Upload unlimited photos and videos (including Higher definition videos)  Unfortunately videos are limited to 90 seconds
  2. Unlimited storage and Archiving of photos
  3. Photos can be replaced
  4. Join up to 60 groups / pools
  5. The aspect that I find most useful with Pro account is the ability to check statistics of how viewers find you, how frequently your photos are looked at and where the viewers have found you –
  6. If you’re looking for a useful christmas or birthday gift – pro account can be gifted whether or not you’re already on flickr!

How I use Flickr

  • My photostream shows the most recent photos I’ve uploaded.
  • Uploading photos is easy.  Choose whether to have photos visible to everyone, your contacts / friends or private.  If you want to share your photos with someone not on flickr you can send them a “guest pass” by email.
  • Give your photo a title
  • Add tags – Tagging photos is very effective as your photos can be found through all search engines, most popularly yahoo, google and flickr itself.  Stats will also pick up if your photos are found directly from your blog, facebook or other social media. You can add up to 75 tags per photo. Geo tags can be added showing where the photo was taken – this can increase audience interested in your photo and is another point of interest for the wider flickr community.
  • Add description – this can elaborate on your photo information, or simply describe your photo.
  • Notes can be added by highlighting directly on the photo – useful to identify individuals or specific aspects of your photos.  Other Flickr’rs can add notes too
  • Photos can be edited via Picnik on the flickr site – though I prefer to edit them on iphoto and upload the edited version.
  • Because I have so many photos on flickr I’ve organised them into Sets and then into Collections.
  • I’ve joined several groups on flickr in areas of interest to me eg. Candles, Crafts, Mosaics, Lego………have a look at some of my groups HERE.  Adding photos to your various groups can increase visitors to your page, and can also be great for giving you ideas and finding new contacts.  Have a look at the all new KLCK bloggers flickr page to put faces on some of the bloggers!

I should say that Flickr is a resource to display your photos (whatever they’re showing) – in my case mostly candles, but also my interests, crafts, nature etc.  Selling through flickr is not allowed, however they do allow you to put your website in your profile.  they don’t want you to sell directly from the site – have a look at the guidelines.  An exception to this rule would be selling images – you can opt in to Getty images if you’d like Getty access to your photos with a view to purchasing some – often for product images or some other images suited to advertising.

Flickr can act as a very useful conduit between you and your customers, but also you and the world!  I see it as my online portfolio!  Whatever you decide to post on Flickr enjoy it and take lots of photos.  Start looking around you if you’re stuck for ideas – on regular walks to school with my daughter we used to take photos most mornings of the hedges along the way and animals in the fields.  I have a whole set of our observations. It’s amazing how much you can see when you start looking!

Finishing on a positive note!

Happy Easter!

Easter Vigil mass tonight in St Clare’s Church Graiguecullen celebrated by Fr Dunphy was a lovely experience, featuring among other things many many candles!  The Church was unlit at the beginning of mass.  7 girls from the local school brought the Easter light in procession to the altar.  From this candle the paschal candle was lit.  Our famous Fr Liam Lawton, sang a newly composed Easter song with the ladies choir and the entire congregation had their individual candles lit.  It was a really uplifting and optimistic aspect of the mass.   To add to the occasion there was a christening of a baby boy who was amazingly quiet – the Holy Water didn’t even wake him up!- unlike my own 6 year old who was “bored” by the whole thing!!.  His christening candle (unfortunately not one of mine!) was lit from the new Paschal candle.  The Paschal candle will be used throughout the year to light many more Christening and Wedding candles – hopefully a some of them will have been personalised by yours truely!

Christening Candle with presentation box and personalised card

The bored 6 year old was eventually rewarded by the Easter Bunny and Chicken giving Easter Eggs to all the children at the end of the ceremony.  Of course the same 6 year old Milo was keen to emphasise to me that he knew that this wasn’t the real Easter Bunny, but he decided to take an egg anyway.  I hope the real Easter Bunny does actually turn up here or there’ll be one very disappointed little boy in this house!!!

Happy Easter! – hope this time of renewal brings some optimism to us all.  Certainly on my part I’m drooling in anticipation of a first taste of chocolate since the beginning of Lent!  Yum!