Monday, 19 January 2015

The Offaly Teenager Turning Recycled Wood Into Business Winner

By Justin Kelly

Tullamore student Conor Lynch has turned a passion for woodturning into a growing craft business. The 17-year-old takes sawmill offcuts and transforms them into completely handcrafted clocks, bowls, candlesticks, and pens. All while studying for his Leaving Certificate this coming June.

Conor's candleholders 
The young craftsman has seen huge success since taking up woodwork at school, and after appearances on Junior Dragon’s Den and Nationwide last year, Lynch’s craft business continues to go from strength to strength. “I secured the mentoring of Peter Casey and a €2,000 bursary on Dragon’s Den, and after being approached for a Nationwide interview by Mary Kennedy at the National Crafts and Design Fair at the RDS, I couldn’t believe the response,” Conor told InOffaly this week. “The reaction to the Nationwide appearance was so positive, they aired it again the following week,” he added.

Woodturning is the art of turning a bare piece of wood into something useful and beautiful. Conor balances schoolwork with woodturning, but still manages to sell his products to eager customers. “My Woodturning, no matter how many orders I had, never got in the way of my schoolwork. I come home and do my homework and study, and sometimes it is 9:30 or 10:00 at night by the time I get out to the workshop, but it is my way of relaxing,” Conor said.

Woodturning takes years to perfect, and Conor’s first piece was a candleholder he made in woodwork class. “At the time the candleholder wasn’t much good, but from then on I was hooked,” Conor told us. Conor bought a woodturning lathe out of his confirmation money, and has been honing his skills ever since. Conor takes the raw piece of wood and mounts it on the lathe, and then he uses specialist tools to carefully carve and shape the wood into the products that he takes to market.

One of Conor's handcrafted clocks
He sells his products through his website’s online shop which is currently receiving a revamp, a crafts website called, CORE craft shop in Ballinahown, as well as taking his wares to numerous craft fairs around the country, namely the National Crafts and Design Fair in the RDS. “My prices range from €5 - €210, and although some people question the prices, my products are handmade in Ireland, using the highest quality materials, and will last for years if treated correctly,” Conor commented. “I never really intended to make my passion into a business, but when people kept telling me they loved what I was making, a business was born.”

Conor has received support the length and breadth of the country, but recognises the local support most of all: “The business people of Tullamore have been so kind to me, and my school were extremely accommodating in allowing me to sit exams later than usual, so I could attend the National Crafts and Design Fair,” Conor acknowledged. “Above all this I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without thanking my parents and brothers. They have been an incredible support to me in allowing me pursue my passion,” he added. Conor also received national prominence and notoriety in 2011, when one of his handmade bowls was presented to the then President of Ireland Mary McAleese. He also had to turn down a very large order from a Michelin star restaurant in Galway due to school commitments, but hopes to make this craft his future career.

“I’d love to continue my woodturning, especially as I enter my college years, and when I’m finished my Leaving Certificate this summer, I will be enquiring to more shops in Dublin about stocking my wares.” Although 2015 will be a relatively quiet year for the teenage talent as he prepares for his exams, Conor does plan on returning to the National Crafts and Design Fair, as well as stocking more shops later in the year. “I am very excited about advancing my woodturning, and I also have some brand new products in mind that I can’t wait to start making,” he told InOffaly.

Conor’s website will be up and running shortly, but he can also be contacted through Facebook by simply searching for ‘Conor Lynch Woodturning.’

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