1 September 2021
By Tom Collins
While many have been missing family over the past year and a half, one West Cork woman was thinking outside the box and created a unique, heartfelt new product to keep families connected and keep loved ones close.
Maura O’Connell, originally from Fermoy, has lived in West Cork for the past 10 years with her husband and two daughters. While on a career break Maura discovered life casting and she knew immediately this was something very special. Maura has always had a deep interest in people and their stories. It was this curiosity married with her creative skills that led her to launch West Cork Casting Studio. Slowly over the past 4 years, Maura has perfected her skill in her craft and had built a steady business. That was until the covid pandemic hit in 2020 and she had to temporarily close her lifecasting business. Born out of the desire to connect families, regardless of the distance, Maura worked on developing a new product offering, Fingerprint Jewellery. Just as she did when discovering life casting, Maura set about teaching herself the skill of creating fingerprint jewellery. “We each have unique fingerprints and wearing a piece of jewellery with the print of a loved one is very special indeed” says Maura. Customers are sent a kit by post, that they use at home to capture the precious fingerprint, Maura then works her magic, creating a range of silver necklaces and bracelets and most recently, she added bog oak and sterling silver keyrings to the range.
What Maura didn’t expect was the demand for memorial pieces. Her first piece was for a family who had lost a daughter at a young age. Maura was able to capture a fingerprint and create a very special necklace for the family members. When they received this special and unique piece, this lady’s sister Kate was overcome with emotion, “When the necklace arrived I was so excited to see how it had turned out but I wasn’t prepared for the unstoppable tears of joy that streamed down my cheeks.” Kate said.
Another offering from West Cork Casting studio is to create jewellery with the imprint of hand or footprint pieces for parents after miscarriage or stillbirth. These are truly emotional pieces that bring comfort to help grieving parents to heal.
Maura joined Network Ireland West Cork 2 years ago: “Having a group of women I could turn to for support and guidance made me feel less alone in my business. I often feel like the members are my colleagues and I have learnt so much about running a business and also about supporting myself”. Maura won the Network Ireland West Cork Creative Professional Businesswoman of the Year Award and will represent her branch at the National awards which will be livestreamed from the Theatre Royal Waterford on 8th October. The judges of the Network Ireland West Cork Businesswoman of the year Award commented on Maura’s pivot when Covid hit as being a really excellent example of how creative she is – thinking outside the box to provide another service is exactly what we’ve all been asked to do, and she’s made a real success of that. “Winning Businesswoman of the Year 2021 in the Creative Professional category has been the biggest validation I could hope for” says Maura. “West Cork is a hugely creative place with an abundance of artists, craft workers, writers amongst others. To be a representative of all that is creative in West Cork is very exciting for me. Network Ireland has given me the support and encouragement I needed to stay motivated”.