GMIT Letterfrack Students Design and Make Flag Memorial Vessel for DáIl Eireann

By Gemma Creagh - Last update

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A group of second year students studying on the B.Sc (Hons) in Furniture Design and Manufacture in GMIT Letterfrack, the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology, have recently completed a project with the Office of Public Works (OPW). On a bi-annual basis the OPW Furniture Division works with GMIT and their second year students on a project to produce a specifically themed piece of furniture made from locally and sustainably sourced materials. This year the project was in collaboration with the Oireachtas, to design a ‘Flag Memorial Vessel’ which would contain the Irish flag and could be presented to the families of deceased former members of the Oireachtas on the day on which Expressions of Sympathy are held in the House.

GMIT Letterfrack Students at Work

The OPW brief challenged the students to design and make an imaginative and timeless piece in Irish hardwood that embraces the sensitivity of its purpose while also enveloping and protecting the National Flag. The flag within the vessel is representative of one that would have flown at 33 The Mall, Waterford where Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish patriot and US army general and Governor of Montana, first flew the tricolour flag on the 7th March 1848.

Applying research on the historical context of the National Flag and using information from the Thomas F. Meagher Foundation, the students drafted initial proposals where feedback provided by the OPW allowed refinement to develop and make final design proposals.  On 30 January a presentation was made in Leinster House to the Ceann Comhairle and staff members of the Oireachtas, where all were delighted by the range, diversity and quality of the proposals put forward.  A judging panel determined a ranking of proposals where the vessel made by student Maighréad Bussmann from Ballintrillick in Co Sligo was deemed to be the top ranking piece.

Dedicated Project Work

Anthony Clare, lecturer in GMIT Letterfrack, says this has been a rich educational experience for the students. “To participate in a live project with a defined brief and client expectations affords the students a learning opportunity hard to replicate through normal class teaching. The students’ level of knowledge and professionalism around all areas of client interaction and engagement has been significantly enhanced, along with their presentation skills. In a project of this significance the design and making of the final output is critical and this has further focused attention to all details in their final proposal. The students deserve great credit and they have been involved in an experience I am sure they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, added Mr. Clare.

Paul Leamy, Head of Department, GMIT Letterfrack, says: “GMIT Letterfrack is delighted to collaborate with the OPW in a significant and exciting project of this nature. As the National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design & Technology nothing serves to illustrate this more than being asked to design a piece that could be presented to the families of deceased members of the Oireachtas by the Ceann Comhairle. On behalf of the staff of GMIT Letterfrack I wish to congratulate all the students on presenting such a fantastic range of proposals and particularly Maighréad Bussmann for the exceptional piece she designed and made.  I would also like to thank lecturers Anthony Clare and Davin Larkin and technicians Martin Kearney, Kevin Gyves and Daniel Collins for their support and guidance to students throughout the project”.

A Background in Design

GMIT Letterfrack is a National Centre of Excellence that provides honours degree level programmes in furniture design and manufacture; furniture making and architectural woodworking; furniture and digital manufacturing and teacher education. Graduates contribute to and influence the fields of furniture and wood product design, education, technology and manufacture in ways that are innovative, creative and responsive to the ongoing development of the Irish economy.

GMIT Letterfrack has well established relations with the Irish furniture and wood products industry and has links with colleges in Europe and the USA. In addition, it partners with a broad range of progressive and advanced manufacturing companies, located throughout the world, as part of a substantial work placement (internship) element of all industry programmes.

Excellence is at the core of a student-centred approach to teaching and learning within GMIT Letterfrack. Graduates attain a range of key skills linked to their programme choice and emphasis is placed on quality project-based learning.

For more information or to enquire about training at GMIT, click here.

Gemma Creagh

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