Book Club, New RTE TV Series

I am working on a NEW RTE TV series called Book Club to be broadcast in the Autumn 2022. We are looking for Book Clubs to take part. If you enjoy reading and are part of a Book Club do get in touch; mary@maryfitzgeraldpr.ie. I would love to hear from you!

Launch of Clare Anne Taylor Couture Cakes, Clare Ann Range

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

CLARE ANNE TAYLOR CAKE RANGE

The launch of the Clare Anne range of luxurious hand-crafted cakes is a real treat for all cake lovers and those wishing to gift an exceptional culinary creation to mark a special occasion.

Brought to the market by Clare Anne Taylor, the renowned pastry chef, best known for her Couture range of elegant, bespoke wedding cake creations, these cakes are more readily available on three day order from a select group of retailers of fine foods and online through click and collect at www.clareannetaylor.ie

Defined by beautiful artistry and style and using only the finest and seasonal ingredients, the cakes come in two sizes in three designs which vary seasonally.

Chocolate Guinness and Hazelnut Praline cake

Bronze Award Winner at this year’s Irish Food Awards; Rich and light Chocolate and

Guinness Sponge, spread with Hazelnut and Almond Praline and filled with Hazelnut Italian Meringue Buttercream Autumnal Spiced Honey Sponge, Poached Pears, and a Velvet Smooth Pear and Chocolate Ganache

CLARE’S STORY

Clare Taylor launched Clare Anne Taylor Couture Cakes as a mirco enterprise in 2017. Starting from her kitchen at home, Clare has grown the business to become one of Ireland’s foremost designers of luxury cakes and confections for weddings and celebrations.

Working with some of Irelands leading event planners, 5-star hotels and individual clients, the business has grown in reputation and scale. Recently moved to a purpose designed pastry kitchen and offices in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, Clare and her team now bring her luxurious creations to a wider market.

Throughout our development we have been supported by wonderful local and national suppliers of the finest and seasonal ingredients.

“We had the pleasure of working with Clare Anne Taylor. All creations were delivered with precision and were even more beautiful in person. We very much look forward to working together again”

John and Sandy Weir, Forest Avenue

“Clare Taylor is a breath of fresh air and really gets what it takes to be a provider of couture cakes to a Five Star Deluxe Hotel.  Her attention to detail and “can do” attitude are exactly what is needed at this high level.  Cake flavours sourced from local ingredients and innovative designs taste and look incredible on the day.

Paul Kelly, Head Pastry Chef, The Merrion Hotel

Further information contact:

Mary FitzGerald Public Relations

T:  01-6787916

M: 086-2520181

E: mary@maryfitzgeraldpr.ie

W: www.maryfitzgeraldpr.ie

Irish Examiner article on Mary FitzGerald, Saturday 26th September 2020

Arts and crafts with the woman who taught us when we were kids: Mary Fitzgerald 

Mary’s make and do show ‘How Do You Do’ has been making a welcome comeback on the RTÉ Player

Mary Fitzgerald in the National Gallery. Photograph Moya Nolan

Mary Fitzgerald:  Her much-loved arts and crafts programmes can now be seen on the RTE Player. Picture: Moya Nolan

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2020 – 09:30 AM

AMANDA CASSIDY

Who remembers turning the house upside-down to find the list of glue and glitter, pipe-cleaners and googly eyes Mary Fitzgerald told us we’d need for that day’s creation?

Inevitably, in our house anyway, we’d give up the hunt and watch her cut, stick and paint, mesmerized by the seemingly magical creations she’d come up with in those precious 15 minutes between arriving home from school and starting the homework.

An entire generation was raised on painted bottles, dolls-house furniture and paper aliens on her show How Do You Do which featured on RTÉ each weekday in the late 80s and early 90s. 

Now, thanks to a social media campaign to get the iconic arts and crafts show back onto our screens during Covid, Mary Fitzgerald’s one-woman make and do show has been making a comeback via the RTÉ player, entertaining the children of those children she captivated for years. So just why is the 30-year-old show so popular, and to what does Mary attribute her creativity?

“When I was a child, I loved making things. My mum would buy me make and do books from Woolworths in Kilkenny where I’m from, and I’d make doll houses, puppets, birthday cards, anything really. Later, I trained as a primary school teacher and went on to teach profoundly deaf children at St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls in Cabra. It was around this time that I spotted an ad in the paper from RTÉ looking for researchers for education programmes, so I applied.

“My CV sat in a pile for two years,” she remembers. “Then, out of the blue, I got a letter about a new Saturday morning show called Anything Goes. I remember I was teaching the children at my school about a creepy-crawly caterpillar that turns into a butterfly and I’d made up a song, I still remember it. So off I went in my massive paper caterpillar with a hat on my head and sang the song for them. It is the first and last time I ever sang in public.” 

 The show, a huge hit with the Irish public, went on to run for six years, with the first hour dedicated to the under 10s. “Many of the stories and adventures I made up were actually based on Trudy Mary, my brother’s imaginary friend,” laughs Mary. “I just loved it. When RTÉ asked me if I wanted my own show I didn’t hesitate. Essentially I was doing as an adult exactly what I loved doing as a child.” 

And so the show, How Do You Do (which became fondly known as Mary’s Make and Do) took flight. It aired for 15-20 minutes during The Den and was among the highest-rated shows for the station. (It was only narrowly beaten to the top spot by The Simpsons, explains Mary proudly.)

“Initially, I came up with all the ideas. I’d go out and get the cornflake boxes, buy the arts material and do the crafts at home myself, starting with each step, a quarter made, half made, until it was complete…here’s one I made earlier! But eventually, I got a small store room to keep things in and my team slowly grew.”

Before long, Mary became a household name and subsequently, one of Ireland’s most recognised celebrities.

“We didn’t have email or social media back then, so the only indication that the show was successful were the sack-loads of entries to competitions that would arrive into Montrose.

“Once we ran a paint-a-witch competition for Halloween and there were so many entries that we decided to stick them up on every corridor in RTÉ. I mean, there wasn’t a space on the wall in that place that wasn’t filled with some scary-looking witch. Another time, we had done a bright clown costume segment, and I got a letter from one school in Cork with a picture of the entire school and teachers standing in the yard, every single one of them wearing the clown costume they’d watched me make the previous week!

Later, the instruction leaflets that the show released also proved a huge hit, and Mary went on to put together a How do You Do book for kids —  an instant bestseller. 

it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect or if you don’t follow the instructions perfectly, it is about having a go, trying things out, seeing where that takes you.

So what exactly made the show so special?

“The thing was that it wasn’t too long,” explains Mary modestly. “The kids would come in and throw their schoolbags into the hall and unwind before homework. There were also only RTÉ One and Two for the most part, so a lot of the Irish population had little else to watch. We also varied the crafts widely; we made dolls furniture, kites, tie-dye t-shirts. In fact, my daughter had no real interest in my work at the time, but only recently phoned me up to ask me about making tie-dye t-shirts during Covid restrictions!

It is amazing the satisfaction children get from making something out of nothing. Art can help them develop their creative skills. A lot gets handed to children on a plate these days and they don’t have to use their imaginations as much. But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect or if you don’t follow the instructions perfectly, it is about having a go, trying things out, seeing where that takes you.” 

Life has taken Mary on few interesting twists of her own. After seven years on the show, she went on to work as the PR for Irish Horse Racing Ireland. Admittedly, a jump from making paper-mache lanterns. 

“My family was into racing,” Mary points out. “It was an extension of that hobby really. Then I took a side road and trained to be a barrister in my 50s and practiced for a few years.” 

Today, she has her own business, Mary Fitzgerald PR where she mainly looks after corporate and consumer clients.

Mary believes that the inclination we all had to create during lockdown was what prompted one of her former fans to petition RTÉ to rerun her shows on the Player. 

“When lockdown came, a guy in Limerick, a lecturer I believe, had watched my show as child. He started a twitter campaign to bring back the shows to help keep kids busy during lockdown. That’s why the tapes were taken out of the archives. We finally have new technology to put them out on the airwaves again. They are going to put more out for Halloween and Christmas but unfortunately a lot of the tapes were wiped, which is a terrible thing when you think about it. Programmes then were recorded on film, which was very expensive. But of the ones that have been aired, I’ve had a very good reaction.

“I mean, if you look at Mary Berry, she had her cooking programmes years ago and has now made a brilliant comeback. I’d love to go back and do something creative again, but the only way to find out would be to do maybe 8-10 programmes and put them out and see what people thought.” 

So if RTÉ called you up and asked you to come back, would you really?

“In principle, I would, yes. I enjoyed it so much. I’d obviously look for more help, but I loved it. If they thought there was the appetite out there, and it was good to get children’s heads out of their phones for 15 minutes a day, then of course, I’d be happy to do it!” 

Read More

5 things kids of today might not know about The Den

Presenter Mary Fitzgerald on the set of 'How Do You Do' in 1989.

Devils’ Halloween Outfit 

What you need: 

Garden stick, stapler, belt, glue, thin cardboard, thick elastic, sticky tape, tin foil, rope or thick string, red card.

  • Step One: For the devil’s ears, place a dinner plate on red card. Draw around it to make a circle and cut it out.
  • Step Two: Cut the circle in half. Fold each half into a cone and fasten with a stapler or sticky tape. Make a small hole at either side of each cone with a scissors. Thread a piece of elastic to fit around your head, through the holes and tie.
  • Step Three: For the tail, fold one end of the rope into a small loop and fasten with sticky tape. Draw an arrowhead on red card, cut out and stick to the other end of the rope. To wear the tail, put a belt through the loop and fasten around your waist.
  • Step Four: Now draw a three-pronged fork on cardboard and cut it out. Use sticky tape to attach it to the garden stick.
  • Step Five: Tear strips of tin foil and wrap around the stick and fork until completely covered.
  • Wear red or black clothes when dressing up as a devil.

Painted bottles 

What you need: 

Empty bottles and jars, e.g. jam jars, wine bottles, sauce jars, poster paint and soap or powder paint, gloss paint, paintbrushes, glue, scissors, glitter, newspaper 

  • Step One: Clean and wash empty bottles. Paint them all over on the outside using poster or powder paint mixed with soap or gloss paint. You can also paint the bottles on the inside by swirling paint inside the bottle using household gloss paint. Leave bottles to dry. Do not decorate until completely dry.
  • Step Two: You can leave the bottles plain or paint a funny face on it. Why not decorate the top of the jar with a bow or add other symbols like flowers.
  • Step Three: With an empty sauce bottle, paint it all over and let it dry. Paint a strawberry on it or tie a ribbon and bow. Maybe write a message or paint someone’s name on it and gift it to them with a flower stuck inside.
  • Step Four: You can also dab on blobs here and there with a brush, or add squiggles. To add glitter to a bottle, sprinkle a little on newspaper, cover the painted bottle with glue and roll it on the glitter in the newspaper. Shake off excess glitter and leave to dry.

All these bottles can be used for holding pens and pencils or flowers.

LIFE Mary Fitzgerald: The kids would stand around the piano and ‘feel’ the music Before wielding pipe cleaners, egg cartons and empty toilet rolls on classic RTE children’s series How Do You Do? in the 1980s, Mary Fitzgerald taught deaf youngsters — but she soon found she had to be creative during conversation. Interview by Larissa Nolan Sunday June 28 2020, The Sunday Times

I started out life as a primary school teacher and my first job was at Loreto College in Dublin’s Foxrock. I was only about 20 — so young that most of the parents thought I was someone from the senior school. I taught children arts and crafts. Back then, there wasn’t much credence given to learning to be creative and use your imagination, but now people see the great value in it.

I then answered an advertisement to work for St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls in Cabra. I went along, did the interview, and got accepted. They tried me out for a while — had a look at me to see if I was suitable to be trained up — then sent me to University College Dublin to study as a teacher for the deaf.

I knew nothing about deaf children, nor had I ever known or met a person who was deaf or hard of hearing. What appealed to me was the challenge. It was such a complete change.

The average class size in Dublin primary schools at the time was 30 to 40 children, but at St Mary’s I had just six or seven. It meant that I could give them hands-on care and they had my full attention. At that time the method was to teach deaf children to lip-read and use their voices. We didn’t teach sign language: the focus was on helping them to live in the hearing world. That focus has since changed, with the deaf community saying that signing is their natural first language.

In the class, we sat at a big horseshoe-shaped desk, all of us plugged into the same system, with hearing aids, and I had a microphone. The set-up would have been very suitable for social distancing: all the children were about two metres apart and the classrooms were big and airy, with plenty of room and good spaces between people.

The children were very proficient at lip-reading. If another teacher came in to see if I was going for a drink after work, or for a quick coffee, we would have to turn our backs to talk or else they would know what we were saying. When the Prince of Wales married Diana in 1981 and the wedding was shown on TV, they were all able to tell me what the royal family had been saying on the balcony. They were great for gossip — they knew exactly what was happening in school, and to whom.

We would do reading, writing and maths: the ultimate aim was that they would go on to college and the same career roles as hearing students. The biggest difference between teaching hearing and non-hearing children was that you would go into a classroom and it would be silent. There’s always a level of chat in classrooms, but in a deaf class, it is the silence you notice first of all. You are usually encouraging children to keep quiet — in a deaf classroom you’re telling them to talk.

I remember all my students. One of them, Olive, was in a car accident when she was two years old, and lost her hearing as a result. She qualified as a chartered accountant. I was thrilled at that news.

Fitzgerald on the set of children’s craft show How Do You Do in 1990

RTÉ ARCHIVE

Music was a challenge. It is difficult to teach it to deaf children. I worked with a music teacher and we would bring them into a hall, play a song on the piano, and they would all stand around it and feel the music. It was learning music through vibrations; the different vibrations came up their arms and would give them an idea of what the notes were.

I only taught them one song in the whole year and that was a long process — a huge achievement. They had to learn the words and put a sound to it. The song I taught them was The Creepy Crawly Caterpillar.

When RTE offered me an audition for a slot on youth programme Anything Goes, I said I could do arts-and-crafts slots and stories. One of the tasks was to sing a song for under-10s, and illustrate it. It was a no-brainer for me. I had been doing The Creepy Crawly Caterpillar for a year and had made a huge green caterpillar in the classroom, as well as hats for all the kids. I replicated that for RTE and I got the job.

I tried over the years to get children’s programming in RTE to include deaf kids. When I moved on to my own show, How Do You Do? [the children’s make-and-do series appeared on the channel during the late 1980s and early 1990s and some episodes are currently being re-run on RTE Player], I managed to adapt some of it for deaf children. We did drama and mime and subtitled the programme. They were the first — and possibly only — children’s programmes made specifically for deaf children by RTE.

How Do You Do? is on RTE Player

Carl Mullan & Donncha O’Callaghan go head to head in crafting challenge

Bored in the house and you’re in the house bored? Well, get ready to be inspired because it’s Arts and Crafts Week on RTÉ Player, and with that comes a brand new series of videos from ‘Craft Queen’ Mary Fitzgerald.

Many will remember Mary from How do you do?a children’s series that had kids across Ireland making everything from space ships to dolls’ houses using empty toilet rolls and egg cartons.

To celebrate the show landing on RTÉ Player, Mary will be challenging some grown-ups to compete in ‘Get Crafty’ challenges. Today, Carl Mullan will be up against his rival, sporting legend, Donncha O’Callaghan as the two attempt to make kites over Zoom.

Want to play along at home? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A black sack
  • Some plastic shopping bags
  • 2 sticks of equal length (garden sticks or bamboo sticks – approximately 2 feet long)
  • Twine
  • Glue/Sellotape
  • Scissors

Here’s what to do:

  1. Begin by cutting the end off the closed side of the bin bag.
  2. Open up the bag and fold it in half (lengthways).
  3. Fold one corner across so that it meets the other side of the bag and cut off the triangle that this fold creates.
  4. Cut another triangle, this time from the bottom and working your way up to  where you first started cutting the first triangle.
  5. Open the bag up and you should be left with the rough shape of your kite. There’ll be 2 separate pieces that are exactly the same. You can take away one of them and use it to make a second kite later.
  6. Glue or sellotape your sticks to the back of the kite, leaving a wing at either side.
  7. Sellotape a piece of string to the back of each wing and tie them in the middle.
  8. Decorate the front as you please (use lightweight items like shopping bags or paper).
  9. Sellotape another piece of string approximately 2 feet long to the bottom of the kite to create your tail. Decorate with light plastic bows made from offcuts of your plastic bags.
  10. To attach the string to fly your kite, tie the loose end of a long ball of string/twine to the string attached to your wings.

Return of Mary FitzGerald’s iconic art and craft TV programmes to RTE Player

Mary FitzGerald’s iconic art and craft TV programmes, “How do you do?” originally broadcast to children in the 80’s and 90’s are to return to the RTE Player on Monday 25th May 2020 to entertain both parents and children in these unprecedented times”.

As parents and their children are now at home daily, Mary will introduce a new generation of children to the joys of art and craft to keep them busy and entertained in these coronavirus times. See www.rte.ie for further details. http://rte.ie/player

A DVD of 12 of the best “How do you do?” art and craft programmes is also available to purchase in the shop for €10.

“By Imagination We Live”

Irish Humanities Alliance (IHA) Strategic Plan for the Humanities 2020-2030

The Irish Humanities Alliance (IHA), launched their Strategic Plan 2020-2030, “By Imagination We Live,” a significant, all-island vision for the humanities, on Wednesday, 6th November 2019 in the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin.
Dame Marina Warner, a renowned English Novelist, Short Story Writer, Historian, Mythographer and Professor of English and Creative Writing, Birkbeck, University of London, did the official launch.

The document is the outcome of extensive and in-depth consultation with IHA member institutions, the 10 universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy.

Launching this visionary Plan, Dame Marina Warner said; “I am delighted to have been asked to launch the IHA Strategic Plan for the humanities “By Imagination We Live”. As someone who values the contribution of the humanities to cultural life, universities and society at large, I congratulate all those involved in putting together this clear, all-Ireland vision for the humanities. We all need to use our imagination, especially now in this technological age. The IHA Strategic Plan places great value on the contribution that humanities disciplines can make in addressing
the most pressing social, political, cultural, technological, and environmental issues of the 21st century”

Dr. Mel Farrell, Director, IHA, said “Since its creation in 2013, the IHA has worked to promote the value of humanities research and scholarship in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Humanities disciplines ranging from geography, literature, modern languages and history in understanding the human experience through history, culture and
language. By imagination we live demonstrates and articulates the value and diversity of the established and emerging humanities disciplines, and the critical role they play in understanding the human experience through history, culture and language”.
With the development of this new, IHA Strategic Plan 2020-2030, there is now a clear path forward for all Higher Education Institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland to put the humanities centre stage in the education of its people. See full details of “By Imagination We Live” on www.irishhumanities.com

Further information contact:
Mary FitzGerald
PR Consultant-Irish Humanities Alliance
Mary FitzGerald Public Relations
T: 01-6787916. M: 086-2520181
E: info@maryfitzgeraldpr.ie

And

Dr. Mel Farrell
Director
Irish Humanities Alliance
www.irishhumanities.com