Co Antrim artist Sean McKeown turns tree stumps into fairy village
JUST over a year ago, Sean McKeown stumbled on a tree stump in his garden in the hamlet of Newtown-Crommelin near Ballymena.
At that moment the one-time bricklayer had the idea to turn these rejected lumps of wood into something magical.
Fast forward 12 months and, armed with just a chainsaw and a few carpentry tools, Sean has created Little World - a series of hand-carved, intricately designed 'fairy houses'.
Invest NI pledged support for the project and helped Sean create a business plan for a fairy village to mesmerise children from all over the country.
By acquiring unused tree stumps and excess wood from local suppliers, he has been able to hollow out and construct houses ranging from nine to 15 feet tall.
Tourists have been stopping by to admire the creations, with miniature versions available to purchase for those with a penchant for folklore.
Each fairy house can take months to craft, especially considering the man behind it all prefers to work alone.
"It’s the sort of thing that nobody can give me a hand with, it’s like doing an oil painting – it’s my vision," Sean said.
"You actually spend a lot of time just looking at stumps as you go, making sure you get everything just right."
Made from oak, beech and silver birch, each one of the dozens of fairy houses are bespoke and handcrafted.
The response so far to Little World has been nothing but positive, with countless five star online reviews and responses from admiring fans.
"These houses are amazing. Couldn't believe it when I saw these in person. The detail and work that goes in to these pieces is exceptional," one review reads.
"Little World is a truly unique venue which taps into our island heritage of myths & legends," said another.
Sean’s plans, however, extend beyond Little World. He hopes to create a series of tunnels to run though his fairy village, including a sensory tunnel for disabled children.
"I’m hoping to have three of the largest fairy tunnels in the whole of Ireland," he said.
"In the future I hope to see get some funding and hopefully by around March I’ll have bus loads of tourists coming to visit."