Stained glass crafts to light up the Guildhall

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A Derry business which specialises in large-scale stained glass window commissions, will be seen in a whole new light when it showcases its work at the annual Guildhall Craft Fair this weekend.

Alpha Stained Glass will be displaying a range of handcrafted products which makes the traditional art of stained glass accessible on a smaller scale, including Tiffany-style light catchers, fused glass Christmas decorations, candle-holders, window hangings, table lamps and ceiling light shades.

It will be the first time for Alpha Stained Glass to take part in Derry City Council’s popular annual craft event which will showcase the work of 40 crafters/designers from across the island of Ireland, including ten who are based locally.

Alpha Stained Glass is run by the Coyle family who moved from their historic city centre premises on the corner of Castle Street two years ago, to a new workshop in Springtown Industrial Estate.

The company was founded in 1986 by Joe Coyle who died four years ago. The business is now run by his wife Geraldine, son Joseph and daughter Theresa.

Alpha Stained Glass is currently working on the restoration of 70 lead lights in the Lynn Library at Queen’s University, Belfast which is expected to continue until next Spring.

Its former premises at Castle Street – previously the offices of the Coroner H.C. O’Doherty – iscurrently being refurbished. Built at the turn of the 20th Century, the major restoration project is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Benchmark Builders are carrying out the work in conjunction with Shane Birney Architects which will sensitively convert the building into four apartments and retail/office space, restoring original features such as external mouldings and parapets around the top of the building which were affected by bomb damage over the years.

Alpha Stained Glass employs seven staff and has worked all over Ireland as well as doing stained glass work in major European cities including Paris, Bonn, and Madrid. The firm was commissioned to create memorial windows dedicated those who died in the Omagh bombing in 1998.

The series of windows features four pieces naming each of the towns the people were from - Buncrana, Omagh, Claudy and Madrid – and were donated to the school, university, library buildings in the four locations.

Theresa Coyle believes her late father would be proud of the work his family are carrying on in his memory, using traditional skills and techniques which haven’t changed for hundreds of years, she explained.

She said: “My father studied fine art at Camberwell College in London. He was a silversmith who also became interested in stained glass and developed the business from there. We do produce stained glass for domestic projects, but our work is mainly larger contracts such as the restoration of St Columb’s Cathedral and our ongoing project creating 60 new stained glass windows for St Marys Church, Bundoran.”

“All of our product range is designed and handmade in our workshop in Springtown. Alpha Stained Glass has been making stained glass windows for nearly 30 years and we have used this experience to create our range of light-catchers, decorations and lighting. The products are made using traditional leading or Tiffany techniques, for the smaller pieces. Every aspect of our production is carefully completed in the workshop and all materials are sourced as locally as possible. We also have Derry specific designs, inspired by the town and its history.

“Our work is available at the Craft Village Collective as well as at our workshop. Visits to the Alpha workshop in Springtown can be arranged by appointment during opening hours, Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm, Tel: 028 71 266371 or contact us @alphastainedglass.com.”

The Guildhall Craft Fair will be open this weekend on Friday, November 14th (2pm-8pm); Saturday, November 15th (10am-6pm); and Sunday, November 16th (11am-5pm). Admission is £1 and free for children under 14.

For further information on Derry City Council’s Christmas events programme, go to www.festivetime.com