Astrid sails on in the form of designer bags

From full sail ahead on the high seas to stylish, limited edition handbags for the high street.

Vicky McDonagh, Kinsale, with one of the handbags made from the sails of the Astrid. Pic Dan Linehan

A creative design team based in Cork has breathed new life into the sails which once powered the ill-fated historic tall ship Astrid, which was wrecked off the south coast last year.

Hungarian brothers Levente and Attila Magyar, who run Mamukko design in Kinsale, struck a deal with Astrid skipper Pieter de Kam to acquire seven sails retrieved from the sea six weeks after it ran aground off Kinsale.

They put the material through a special washing process and crafted it at their workshop into a range of five unique handbag styles for the Astrid Collection. The original sail material was incorporated with brown leather, and each bag was emblazoned with the Astrid logo.

“The material had very special characteristics, making each bag unique,” said Attila, who is Mamukko’s general manager.

They sold all 35 bags in the range, with prices from €79 to €245, before Christmas, and are planning to make at least 25 more from the remaining material. “Most of them we sold online to people in Holland, including some to the wife of the vessel’s skipper — so in a way, part of the vessel has gone home,” said Atilla.

The tall ship ran aground near Oysterhaven during the Irish Sailing Association’s Gathering Cruise on Jul 24 last after its engines failed. All 30 people on board were saved during a dramatic rescue operation.

The 42m steel square-rigger held fast on the rocks at Ballymacus Point for six weeks before being salvaged in a complex operation. It was scrapped at Kinsale’s Lobster Quay in December.

The Magyar brothers, fourth-generation design and craft makers who grew up in Transylvania in the 1980s and 1990s, said they spotted an opportunity to turn the sail material into handbags. “It has been one of our best selling ranges,” said Atilla. “It has proved so popular, we are now hoping to do the same with the old sails of other tall ships.”

Their grandparents were well-known and respected craft masters in Hungary.

One of their grand-parents, Andras Darabont, was one of the best-known master coopers in an area known as Maro.

Another grandfather, Balazs Magyar, was a leather worker, and was one of the founders of IPM Sport, a huge shoe and sport accessory manufacturing plant in Transylvania.

Balazs’s son, Arpad Magyar — the brothers’ father — is a leather worker who has spent 55 years designing and making sport gear. He was one of the head designers at the factory for 13 years.

Levente and Attila set up their company a few years ago making handmade boat covers. But Levente, a leatherworker, designer, and artist, branched out and began upcycling sails, marine canvas, and PVC tarpaulins into handbags.

Supported by the South Cork Enterprise Board, the company is a member of Crafts Council of Ireland and has won several ‘green’, startup and innovation awards.

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