December 21 2011
You pronounce it a bit like Cadogan, but the name is now intricately associated with an Irish artisan company making sophisticated hand-tufted rugs and wall hangings in Wellingtonbridge, outside Wexford. Visitors to Irish embassies in London, Berlin, Ottawa, Dar es Salaam, Seoul or The Hague will have trodden on their piles, while a massive wall hanging in the reception area of The Merchant Hotel in Belfast was an impressive recent commission. Apart from bespoke, the company also makes off-the-peg rugs and a unique collection of original abstract Cubist designs by Mainie Jellett (first picture), a leading 20th-century Irish modernist artist, some of which hang in the new purpose-built Wexford Opera House.
Founded in Wexford town by a dyehouse master called Tom Ceadogan 30 years ago, specialising in 4 x 2 hearth rugs, the business was taken over by a local farmer called Denis Kenny and his wife Fiona Gilboy, a teacher, in 1989. They set about expanding the range and introducing more inventive and design-led items, their first collection inspired by African, Aboriginal, Celtic and Inuit primitive art. “I had to learn the process and Fiona did the design work,” recalls Kenny.
Today they operate from restored 18th-century farmyard buildings on the original family farm overlooking Bannow Bay in Wexford with a stable of five designers who produce new collections each year. For clients who want something specific, they visit the location and develop ideas to suit the context. Their hand-tufted designs are bold, colourful and modern, and rugs have various different finishes, pile heights and shapes. Prices per square metre for showroom rugs are €600, commission pieces from €600 to €750, with Mainie Jellett rugs €1,500.
All are made in quality wool or wool/silk mixes sourced from New Zealand, ethically processed bamboo from South-East Asia (which produces a sumptuous finish), along with wool hemp (which gives a lovely hue to dyes, according to Kenny). All the yarns are dyed in Cushendale Woollen Mills in Graiguenamanagh, Co Carlow. Ceadogan Rugs’ new series of designs will launch in May to further expand its existing portfolio, and visitors are always welcome at the showroom. In the meantime, Kenny and Gilboy’s daughter, Ellen Kenny, has produced a charming little video of the company, which can be viewed on the company’s website.