Enduring skills passed on: Irreplaceable

There is something sobering, something dark about the prospect of obsolescence. Technology advances and we are all, one way or another, caught in this flux.

As the nature of work changes radically — when did it not? — how we cope with that evolution seems all the more important. Crafts and those who pass them on can face obsolescence too but, as is the case in every important aspect of life, the adage — it ain’t over until the fat lady sings — rings true.

That Irish Distillers has appointed the first cooper in 40 years confirms this for an ancient craft involving little more than wood and metal. Killian O’Mahony represents tradition — his family has been connected with the distillery for generations — combined with international learning.

He completed his coopering apprenticeship over four years in Irish Distillers as well as working in Scotland, Spain and America.

In a world where we can have real-time conversations, voice and image, with friends in any of those places, it is reassuring that there are still areas where a robot cannot replace a pair of skilled hands. The fat lady sings on...

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