Today we met two of the artists that work full-time at the mill. Mark Keenan, who rents a small apartment above his studio, repairs 19th century violins as well as crafting his own new instruments. Originally from Dublin, he spent 10 years living in England before coming back to Ireland, and according to Mark, he couldn't be happier. On weekend nights in Belmont you can find him playing his violin in a session at Cahill's pub.
Across the courtyard from mill yard from Mark, Dougal McMahon does work repairing wooden boats. Like Mark, he also tries his hand at building his own new ones. And he too enjoys the fruits of his labor, sailing on the Shannon river near his home in Athlone most weekends.
Two new artists-in-residence have arrived just this past week. They'll be doing shorter stays here, funded through bursaries that Tom and Sandy have secured from the Arts Council of Ireland. Through the support of the local art council, Belmont Mill has been able to secure national funding to support an artist in residency program. The program originally hosted both international and Irish residents, but because of the increased cost of travel and artist stipends for international artists, the program is now focused uniquely on Irish artists. Sandy, who administrates the residency program, works with Irish art colleges to coordinate all the new residents. Sandy's interview, which provides wonderful insight into the residency program will be available in the archive.