The Gaslamp Gallery is a successful business, featuring both an exhibition space and a bespoke picture framing service, located in the thriving market town of Gorey, about an hour's drive south of Dublin. For Claire O'Connell owner of The Gaslamp Gallery in Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland, great service starts with a warm welcome. "I want my gallery to be an informal place where visitors can relax, enjoy the art and be guaranteed a warm welcome."
However, the inspiration for the philosophy at the heart of the gallery came from many thousand miles away across the Atlantic. It was while living in Portland, Oregon, right over on the northwest coast of America, that Claire started visiting the kind of places that would influence the way she runs The Gaslamp Gallery. "My husband was working in Portland", explains Claire, "and the immigration rules meant I couldn't work so I had plenty of time to explore the city". Amongst Claire's favourite destinations were small, independent art galleries but they were nothing like those she knew back home in Ireland. "Portland is a great city; full of quirky, independent shops", continues Claire, "and the whole place feels so relaxed, so laid-back. The galleries there are lovely places: they serve coffee, they're staffed by friendly people who aren't pushy, and on the walls, you find a massive range of attractive, affordable art. It's a brilliant experience and that is what we now aspire to do".
After Claire returned to her native Ireland, she had the Portland model of gallery ownership at the forefront of her mind when she bought a stake in The Gaslamp Gallery. "The gallery had been in Gorey since 2011 for but it had seen better days", explains Claire. "The owner had been hit quite badly by the recession and it was only opening five days a week, but I felt that the place had huge potential". Investing money in a vision is always risky but Claire was determined to make a success of her new venture. "I knew what I wanted and I was prepared to work for it", she says. "I think it's important not to take things too seriously in life and when starting a business, a sense of humour is very useful but I was very serious about making the gallery work". Since Claire took over in 2013, the gallery has thrived and she is now the sole-owner. Also working there is Anne-Marie (friends for longer than Claire will admit), and Claire's daughter Louisa works part time on school holidays etc. A commitment to customer service, the Portland-style atmosphere and Claire's belief in making good art affordable to as many people as possible have combined to make The Gaslamp Gallery one of the most popular in Ireland. Recently they moved premises - "That was tough, but we have had an incredible response from our customers. They love our new sleek streamlined look and we are very happy in our new home". However, no matter how far you’ve travelled, there’s one thing for certain: there will be a warm welcome waiting for you when you arrive. www.thegaslampgallery.com