Michael O’Mahony works as a chef in a Cork hospital – but outside of working hours, he cooks up amazing stained glass creations.
“I just love it,” he says of the hobby he took up three years ago in Carrigaline Community School. The night class, run by master craftsman James Nicholl, has enabled Michael to adorn his own home with everything from a stained glass lamp shade to a six-foot-long front-door panel, done in four pieces.
“I had never done stained glass before, beyond putting in the odd pane of glass! And I was familiar with soldering from plumbing handiwork, so I just took to it. Now, I can do the skills, so I want to develop the design and James is a great tutor.”
Michael is so keen on stained glass work that he bought all the equipment required and supplements his class time with many hours in his workshop at home working on projects. “This year’s project is purple irises on a white background. And I’m trying to design my own seascape including a lighthouse, cliffs, sea – I have to draw it out first, so the new skill for me is to get the drawings and proportions right.”
Michael’s skills are so good that his tutor has taken him on for some piecework in his studio. And, when he retires himself, Michael is looking forward to doing as much or as little stained glass work as he wants. He’ll have earned it – he has been working as a chef in the hospital for 47 years.
In the meantime, he’s hoping to add to his creations - angels, fish, blue irises, even a map of Ireland (though Limerick did crack and had to be replaced!). “My wife is delighted with the stained glass – we give them away as presents and my stained glass is in homes as far away as Canada and California.”