JFH Jewels continuing a family tradition that began with John Harrison the inventor of the chronometer in 1735


JFH Jewels is a new Irish business owned by my brother John Harrison that is built on and continues the Harrison family tradition in the watch and jewellery industries in both the UK and Ireland. John Harrison senior, a gemmologist and diamond specialist who studied his craft, trained and worked in Hatton Garden and elsewhere in London, had many jewellery shops in Ireland, the most recent were J W Harrisons, Jon Louise and JWH in Limerick City.

This tradition began with our direct ancestor John Harrison who was the subject of Dava Sobel’s  1995 best-selling book, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time,  The book was made into a television series entitled Longitude broadcast on Channel 4 in 2000 starring Michael Gambon as John Harrison and Jeremy Irons as horologist Rupert Gould.

This P L Tassaert’s half-tone print of Thomas King’s original 1767 portrait of John Harrison, which is located at the Science and Society Picture Library in London. In the picture you can see behind John Harrison his 1726 pendulum clock and to his right on the table lies his H4 watch

Born in Yorkshire in 1693, John a carpenter and clockmaker, invented the first marine chronometer which enabled navigators to determine longitude at sea, a task which some of the most respected scientists of the time, including Isaac Newton, thought an impossible task. This was an important development in navigation and was a device that helped to establish the longitude of a ship at sea which made long distance sea travel safer.

John Harrison’s Chronometer at the National maritime Museum, London

Dava Sobel explains that in order to know longitude at sea, you need to know what time it is aboard a ship and also the time at the home port or another place of known longitude at that very same moment. The two clock times enable the navigator to convert the hour difference into geographical separation. Every day at sea, when the navigator resets his ship’s clock to local noon when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, and then consults the home port clock, every hour’s discrepancy between them translates into another fifteen degrees of longitude. One degree of longitude equals four minutes of time. Precise knowledge of the hour in two different places at once was unattainable up to the era of pendulum clocks. On the deck of a rolling ship such clocks would slow down, or speed up, or stop running altogether. Changes of temperature while travelling at sea thinned or thickened a clocks lubricating oil and made its metal parts expand or contract. A rise or fall in barometer pressure, variations in the Earth’s gravity from one latitude to another, could also cause a clock to gain or lose time.

John Harrison spent four decades perfecting a watch that earned him compensation from Parliament thanks to the recognition and influence of King George III of England and became a wealthy man for the last few years of his life.

John Harrison’s H4 compact chronometer

In 1772 Captain James Cook used the K1 chronometer on his second and third voyages to the South Pacific Ocean and praised it’s accuracy. K1 made by Larcum Kendall was an accurate copy of John Harrison’s successful H4 chronometer, but cost a fraction of the price.


This P L Tassaert’s half-tone print of Thomas King’s original 1767 portrait of John Harrison, which is located at the Science and Society Picture Library in London. In the picture you can see behind John Harrison his 1726 pendulum clock and to his right on the table lies his H4 watch









Edel O’Brien, Reflecting Strings and Irina Dernova to perform at St Michael’s Perry Square

An Evening of Popular Classics, a concert featuring mezzo soprano Edel O’Brien, trio Reflecting Strings and organist Irina Dernova in aid of St. Michael’s Organ Fund and Down Syndrome Limerick will take place at St Michael’s Church, Pery Square on March 31.

Edel O’Brien

“I have only had the pleasure of singing in St. Michael’s Church once before. It is a beautiful venue to perform in. The acoustics are excellent,” said Edel.

Originally from Kilrush, County Clare, Edel began voice training with Jean Holmes at the Limerick School of Music. Then having obtained a Bachelor and Master of Arts in music from National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth, she studied at Trinity College of Music, London, followed by two years at the Centre de Formation Lyrique, Opera Bastille, Paris. Edel has performed as a soloist in Opera de Paris, Opera de Rouen, Opera Ireland, the Anna Livia International Opera Festival, and as a guest soloist with many choral societies throughout the UK, Ireland and France.

“It was really Moya who made the final choice of programme. She asked me to find pieces I like to sing and then chooses those that work best when arranged for cello, violin and harp. The programme will include works by Mozart, Gluck, Bizet and Rossini,” added Edel.

Moya O’Grady on cello, her son David O’Doherty on violin and daughter Geraldine O’Doherty are Reflecting Strings, a Dublin based chamber group that has recorded five critically acclaimed CDs and toured extensively internationally, one special highlight was a celebrated performance in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

Moya was co-principal cellist of the RTE Symphony Orchestra. David studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music, made his American debut live on Boston Radio and in July 2000, and received his “Premier Prix de Virtuosité” from the Conservatoire of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Geraldine has been Principal Harpist with the RTE Concert Orchestra since 2006, and is a teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music, London and at the Hochschule fur Musik in Zurich. She has toured internationally and performed with many groups and has an extensive list of recordings for various artists such as Paul Byrom, The Priests, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder and she also features on the soundtrack to the Oscar nominated film, Albert Nobbs.

Irina Dernova

Irina Dernova who is musical director at St. Michael’s Church, and is also a piano teacher at Mid-West Vocal Academy, Lisnagry, and is well known as an accompanist and teacher throughout limerick and Clare, will begin the evening by playing Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremiah Clarke on the organ.

“I wish to say a big thank you to Edel and Reflective Strings for offering this concert.

The organ in St Michael’s is one of the oldest in Limerick, about 150 years old. It needs funding, a big job was recently done on it, and more work is needed on it,” said Irina.

Tickets are €15 and are available to buy on the door before the concert at 8pm

CD’s by Edel O’Brien and Reflecting strings will also be available to purchase on the evening.

CEO of AONTAS Niamh O’Reilly launches LCEN website at the Hunt Museum

A new website for the Limerick Community Education Network (LCEN) was launched today at the Hunt Museum by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  the Irish National Association of Adult Education (AONTAS) Niamh O’Reilly.

Niamh O’Reilly CEO AONTAS

The LCEN promotes and supports adult learning in local communities and helps adult learners to access accredited and non-accredited programmes across Limerick City. Established in 1993, it consists of a network of fifteen community organisations and statutory agencies which are involved in the provision of Community Adult Education.

“I think the website is a brilliant way of promoting the fantastic community education that is offered across the city of Limerick supported by the LCEN. I’m so glad that you have a website to promote your work because what happening at a community level is hugely important, we have been able to bring across Europe the message of what’s happening in Limerick

“The LCEN is a really important member for AONTAS because if a question comes to me on community education, the first place I go to is the LCEN because it has such a grass roots understanding. AONTAS is committed to ensuring that all adults have the right to go back into education, particularly that which is practiced in Limerick.

“I would hope that the LCEN would be supported with funding because the expertise that has been built would be a huge loss to community education in limerick and also at national level if the LCEN do not get further funding to continue. The website is a way of promoting their work but it is also bigger than that, we have to look really seriously at how community education is going to be sustainably funded,” said CEO of AONTAS Niamh O’Reilly.

The LCEN website was set up from the donation of a prize that AONTAS won when they were exhibiting at an education fair in Limerick in 2016. Work on the website began in November 2016.

The connection between AONTAS and the LCEN goes back eleven years when AONTAS used the LCEN as a model of how to replicate community education at a national level.

The launch was also attended by Councillor Jo Leddin and Deputy Mayor Councillor Michael Sheehan who paid tribute to the fantastic community work that chairperson of LCEN Helen Flanagan and her team are doing in Limerick.

Helen Flanagan Chair LCEN

“LCEN is recognised nationally as a model of good practice and when AONTAS won a prize at the lifelong learning festival, they donated it to LCEN and we decided to set up a website. I think the website will make it more accessible what the work of LCEN does more accessible to our learners, it will be up to date and people will know exactly what’s happening in their local area,” said  chairperson of LCEN Helen Flanagan.

Aobhan Haverty Adult Education Officer in Limerick LCETB

Adult Education Officer in Limerick LCETB Aobhan Haverty is part of the Limerick and Clare Education Training Board (ETB) which supports the LCEN, “I think the LCEN are the most fantastic group. The website is the front of house to celebrate a lot of the work that these volunteers do that goes under the radar. We wouldn’t be able to get programmes out into the community without the wonderful work done by the local community based organisations.”



The Piano Lesson a Ken Wardrop Documentary interview with Mary O’Sullivan who features in the Film


Limerick Musician and Actress Mary O’Sullivan and her students Heather Small (11) her sister Rachael (9) and Gráinne Lynch (14) from the Redemptorist Centre of Music, were featured in the Ken Wardrop documentary, The Piano Lesson, which premiered at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) Dublin, as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (ADIFF) on Monday, February 20.

Internationally acclaimed, Multi-award winning director Ken, interviewed and filmed a number of Piano teachers and their students throughout Ireland for this unique production, and received an extended standing ovation at the end of the screening from a sold out venue.

“The way it’s shot and the moments that Ken catches are stunning, I think he has got an amazing talent, an amazing eye, he’ll let you see things and then it’s for you to judge how you felt.

“He captured people’s personalities. There’s really funny moments, where there’s the interaction between pupils and teachers, so many different characters, and it was interesting to see how involved parents are at different levels. As a teacher I’ve never gotten to see pupil’s at home, to see the part that music plays and how it slots into their life,” said Mary.

Though this is Mary’s first time seeing herself on the big screen and in a documentary, she is no stranger to the limelight and over the years has combined teaching piano with a flourishing acting career.

In 2015 while completing a Masters in Education and the Arts at Mary Immaculate College, she played Little Voice’s mother, in the College Players Theatre production of, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, at the Lime Tree Theatre.

Mary has studied at the Gaiety School of Acting, and worked as a professional actor in London. In 2010 she won Best Supporting Actress at the All Ireland Drama Festival, toured with Mirage Theatre playing the title part in Educating Rita, worked with Island Theatre, Shoestring Theatre, performed at the Riverside Studios, Edinburgh and London Fringe festivals, toured with College Player’s ‘Metamorphosis’ which won the All Ireland Drama Finals and then went on to represent Ireland at the International Drama Festival in Japan in 1995, and was Musical director when they represented Ireland at the International Drama Festival in Monaco. Mary has also worked on radio and television and composed music for an RTE documentary.

“I don’t like watching myself but you actually saw the real Heather and Gráinne, I was very proud and delighted for them. Heather was so excited, Gráinne so laid back, very natural in the film, they are both fantastic and really talented,” said Mary.

Growing up in a musical household as her mother was a piano teacher and a member of a well known band the Therant Sereneraders, Mary’s first piano lesson was when she was 8years, but from an early age she would have been curious and tinkled on the piano in the family home.

“I hope my students get enjoyment out of the lessons. There is the side where you can decide you want to achieve something at the end of the year which is the certificate, at least you have targets, but at the end of the day it’s a hobby and it’s a talent. The exams are an achievement but also, it’s nice just to be able to go away and relax and play the piano. That they look forward to going to the lessons,” added Mary.

Produced by Andrew Freedman, The Piano Lesson examines the special bond between piano teachers and their pupils, with over 30,000 students in Ireland preparing for exams each year, this funny, sensitive, touching film shows the students as they practice and prepare for exams, their struggles, and their teachers’ dedication.

Ken who studied filmmaking at the National Film School (NFS) at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT) Dún Laoghaire, has had his films screened at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals, the Cork International Film Festival, and at festivals in the UK, Croatia, The Netherlands and Scandinavia.

In 2008, his work received the Grand Prix Award at Sapporo International Film Festival in Japan. His short film Undressing my Mother, won a European Film Academy Award, Special Jury Mention at Sundance and an IFTA for Best Short Film. His Documentary on Circumcision Ouch and Bongo Bong, were both nominated for an IFTA. Farewell Packets of Ten won Best Short Documentary at Toronto. His & Hers, his first feature debut won the Audience award at the Dublin International Film Festival, the Feature Award at the Galway Film Fleadh, an IFTA for Best Feature Documentary and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2010.

“It was a joy to be involved with this, these are really nice guys and so professional. He is fantastic, with all kens achievements he is such a nice down to earth genuine guy.

“I am really looking forward to the gala night in April, because it was lovely to go to the screening. We will get to talk to the people afterwards and maybe get to know the people a little bit better, because there were some really interesting characters in it, some fantastic kids,” added Mary.