Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking your prints, but not for CSI

When Damian Dunne takes your fingerprint, he does it with forensic precision, writes Brian Byrne. But he's not investigating you for a crime, it's for a hot line in his jewellery.

"Having your fingerprint engraved on special jewellery pieces is very popular," says this Ballyfermot born jewellery maker who has lived in Kilcullen for almost a decade and a half, and who recently moved his shop from Kildare to Newbridge (just beside Specsavers).

In many instances, the fingerprints are put on pendants, but they're also very popular with 'partials' on wedding bands, either on the outside or the inside. Parents also like to have a fingerprint of their children on a piece.

"A detective came into my shop one day and noticed some examples, and said they were very good. But I was using a standard ink-pad to take the print, so some time later he brought me in one of the very fine ones used by police forensics people. The work got even better."

Damian's jewellery making career started off in 1976 when he got an apprenticeship to a company that made and supplied to shops. "It was a five-year apprenticeship, and I learned a wide range of skills. My actual trade is a mounter, making the mounts on rings to hold the stones."

He was living in Tallaght when he decided to open his own business, in Tullamore in County Offaly. That was what prompted the move to Kilcullen — "it was a shorter distance to travel every day."

He moved the operation to Kildare 11 years ago, expecting — like many local businesses — that there would be footfall spillover from the Kildare Village. "There wasn't, though. Village shoppers just come off the motorway, do their shopping, and leave again." When an opportunity came up a while ago to open in Newbridge, he ran with it. And already, only open around a month or so, he can see the difference.

"Newbridge is a much busier town, very cosmopolitan — a lot of different ages, cultures, languages. There's a buzz about the place. But I also see that customers from Kildare have followed me here."

Apart from the fingerprint items, Damian does a very individual line in Celtic designs, notably a Newgrange range. "I find Celtic designs very inspirational, and I also do Ogham pieces. People appreciate the individuality."

And if you have an interest in Irish mythology, talk to Damian about the old stories, and he'll show you what he can do with the tale of the Salmon of Knowledge and similar (now, does that bring you back to your early primary school days?).

This article was originally published in the Kildare Nationalist.