Tiernan Roe comes from three generations of professional woodworkers, a tradition he continually draws on and hopes to continue. He started woodworking with his father building and repairing wooden dinghies in his spare time. Since graduating from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Tiernan has spent some time as a special effects model maker and sculptor both here in Ireland and in Berlin, Germany. It was in Berlin that Tiernan learnt the importance and application of precision. Having started out building boats and being a keen sailor, (he finds it hard to stay in the workshop during good sailing weather), Tiernan decided to move to Ballydehob, West Cork in 1999, where he now operates from his custom-built workshop.
It was while working on the restoration of Kilcoe Castle that Tiernan began to make bespoke furniture full time. Every large piece of furniture or the castle had to be built on site and assembled in each room. This presented many technical challenges regarding firstly how pieces could be made to pass along narrow passages and then be assembled in extremely confined spaces. Furthermore, the castle was still under reconstruction and as much of the wood was freshly felled or “green”, it was liable to some and on occasion spectacular warping which had to be minimised. The most impressive piece of this time would have to be the 14-foot elm and oak banqueting table and benches that had 96 feet of hand carved moulding and traditional drawn peg mortices.
Tiernan is one of the few professional woodworkers using a blog as his web presence “I started using the blog primarily because I could update it easily myself and it also allowed me to explain the design and manufacture process in a more informal way than a traditional web-site would” Tiernan explains “ another thing that I was attracted to with a blog is that viewers are able to post comments on what they see, unfortunately I have been slow to promote this aspect of the blog but I’m hoping it will take off soon. So i f any readers would like to comment on my work I would be more than happy to recieve feedback”
Another way that Tiernan wants to exploit his blog is by creating private blogs for clients where they can be kept up to date on the progress of their project on line from anywhere in the world. “My practice is practically paperless. All drawings are completed in 3D on the computer and usually sent by e-mail or disc to clients. The ability to change the drawings easily allows me and the client the freedom to try a number of different designs and to view them from all angles. As well as that, many of my projects are site specific and it makes it much easier for me to explain and the client to understand how a piece will look in a space using the 3D rendering.” Although Tiernan spent five years making medieval and traditional furniture, he is also at his ease designing and creating modern furniture. “Essentially my furniture is design-led. For example, one of my clients came to me looking for shaker style furniture but when we were going through the concept stage we began breaking down their reasons for liking shaker furniture. What we found was surprising to us all; they didn’t really like shaker furniture but admired it for its functionality and lightness. This led through various concepts to the creation of the Ogham chair”. While you’ve been reading this Tiernan has probably being agonising over which way to orient the grain and figure in a particular board so that it will match the tone of the boards around or sharpening up his chisels to finish that last bit of carving on a piece. If you would like to check up on what Tiernan has been up to go to www.tiernanroe.blogspot.com