PICTURE CREDIT: Aileen Kennedy
Following the birth of her fourth child, Maria Cahill decided she didn’t want to miss another day of her children’s lives and took a career break from her job managing the Irish wholesale business for Levi Strauss.
While being a full time mother of four was busy, it gave her the time to rediscover her love of baking and cake decorating.
Primarily self-taught, in 2019 she finally plucked up the courage to establish The Artful Caker.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?
Going on, as the kids like to call it, a bear hunt! Traipsing through local forests or fields, the muckier the better!
Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?
I have to say that I really admire and am thoroughly inspired by Mary Fogarty and Maeve O’Hair who between them founded The Cottage in Loughmore. Influenced by the Co-Operative movement which occurred over a century and a half ago, this not-for-profit shop and award winning tea-rooms has become the heart and soul of a rural community. What they have created proves how anything is possible when there is passion behind it.
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Each cake that I make is special. It’s special because it was ordered by someone for a loved one! Special because it represents an important event in that person’s life. I might not know that person but I always try to capture their essence! And believe me when I say money can’t buy the feeling you get when a customer sees their cake for the first time, is speechless, starts crying and hugs you! #jobdone . This is cake is a new design from me. I adore the fairytale inspired inscription on the front. It enabled me to include little Cillian’s 3 year old brother Eanna in a unique way. I will definitely be repeating this style in the future...might even come up with a few Limericks!! . A big shout out to Amy @sweet.stamp for creating her amazing lettering. These two fonts are the flavour of the month! . . Fondant @thesugarpaste Gold paint @sweetsticksau Lettering @sweet.stamp . . #christeningcake #christeningcakesforboys #cowjumpedoverthemoon #fairytalecake #sweetstamps #thesugarpaste #tallcake #uniquecake #sugarpaste #sugarcraft #edibleart #supercute #babycake #food #cake #instadaily #newbeginnings #cakenestin #cakenest #sweettooth #sweetdreams #theartfulcakerthurles #inspiredbyyou
What’s your first Tipperary memory?
It would have to be Summer holidays at my grandparent’s house in Ballinahow. The mad dash to the hen house every morning to rummage for eggs was better than any treasure hunt. I remember sitting on their raised strawberry bed in the haggart and eating strawberries until I came out in a rash!
The highlight for me was always making tarts with my grandmother on her enormous butcher block table. She would show me different ways to seal the pastry by simply using an knife or a fork and your fingers… and that’s where my love for cake decorating began.
What’s your favourite part of the county - and why?
The Devil’s Bit. We’ve been climbing it since our youngest was a small baby in a sling!
Once a year we’ll take a family selfie at the cross. I have them dated, framed and hung in our corridor. They are my constant reminder to give gratitude!
What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?
Its location and scenery!
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
I am actually reading ‘The Last Footman’ by Gillies Macbain at the moment. It’s a fascinating read and so beautifully written.
I grew up not far from Cranagh Castle, where Gillies lives, so I’m hoping that his next book will feature life in Cranagh!
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And last but not least...Cara’s Moo. This adorable little moo moo is named after my equally adorable little niece, Cara...who just happens to turn 2 today! Happy Birthday Cara...don’t worry Meena (that’s what she calls me ❤️, is working on your cake!) #cakesforkids #cowcake #moocake #moomoo #sugarcraft #cakes #birthdaycake #cakeinspo #cakeartists #theartfulcakerthurles #inspiredbyyou
What’s the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Employment. Thurles in particular has been hugely impacted. My husband is a blocklayer and has to travel to Dublin every day for work, as do many of my neighbours.
Our remaining industries in the town are few and far between. Many of our small independent businesses in the Square and surrounding streets have shut their doors.
Local businesses are the heart and soul of our community and once they are gone a little piece of the community dies too. As a people we need to start showing our support to small local businesses and suppliers, these are the ones who provide jobs to our families and raffle prizes to our schools!
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?
My passion is to teach children how to bake. Before Christmas I ran some kids classes which were a huge success and I plan to do more.
But I have also started posting simple recipes with video tutorials on my Facebook and Instagram pages, purely because I really want to provide every child with the opportunity to learn basic baking skills. If I had the power, I would roll out a healthy eating cooking and baking curriculum in primary schools to coincide with the Green Schools and sustainability initiative.
By teaching young children that creating simple nutritious meals and snacks from scratch, not only provides them with valuable life skills and a healthier eating ethos, but would also help to reduce waste that we associate with the packaging from convenience foods.
I would also reintroduce needle work and knitting classes into primary schools. We live in a throwaway society. If a hole comes in a sock , we don’t think twice, we immediately bin it. Lose a button in your shirt, just buy a new one! We need to equip our future generations with the necessary skills to enable them to repair, reuse and recycle!
For more information check out www.theartfulcaker.ie, @theartfulcakerie on Instagram and @TheArtfulCakerthurles on Facebook.