Mary Doherty comes from an area of Inishowen known as Bocan, an area steeped in legend and history, the Bocan Standing Stones are along the road from her house. One of the features of the landscape is the bogland from which Mary gets the material for her work - Bog Oak and Bog Deal, carbon dated to be 6,000 years old. The story of Mary, the sculptress began in 1993 when she went to Esker Redemptorist Monastery in Athenry to do a course on bogwood sculpture. She thoroughly enjoyed the course and thought she would have a lovely lifelong hobby.
Back in her beloved Bocan, Mary began to source bogwood. Mary admits to working on this in her kitchen initially and then when she saw the prospect of turning her work into a business moved to a workshop. Friends, enthralled by her work, encouraged her to exhibit at a local craft fair. She did that, was frightened and nervous but overcame the fear and was highly excited. From there, Mary went on to exhibit in Derry, Dublin, Galway, Boston, New Jersey and other places. As the business developed Mary found it important to display her work and so her husband, Sean, built her a gallery beside her home.
The craft fairs and exhibitions and her local displays have brought customers from all over Ireland and pieces of her work have gone to England, Austria, Germany, France, Holland and the United States. Jean Kennedy Smith, who was the Ambassador for the United States, has a sculpture and Mary received a lovely thank you letter from her which can be seen below. Newt Gingrich, who was the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination for 2012, also has a bogwood sculpture, his piece is a map of Inishowen, which was presented to him when he was researching his ancestry in Inishowen.
Mary was commissioned to do a sculpture of a dove for John Hume, who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Mary was also commissioned to create awards for Irelands Scouts Organisation based on their Emblem. Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland, who opened the event also received one of these trophy’s. Another commission was for the Young Farmers of Ireland award. Mary has done many other commissions and welcomes the challenge for each piece.
Mary's enthusiasm for her craft is infectious. She says "I love my work and am happy when I am working hard at a piece and I get great satisfaction when I have the finished sculpture".
People visit the gallery from all over the world and return to purchase gifts for friends and family. Mary has kept in touch with several of these customers who have now become good friends. This website is to share Inishowen Bogwood Sculptures with anyone who has not had an opportunity to visit Mary’s work at craft fairs, exhibitions or in her gallery at Culdaff, Inishowen.