We enjoyed playing games with De Paor architects to create the Brandub playing surface, the surface of which is a circle. This reinforces the island nature of the game (versus the linear-army nature of chess).
This circle of felt is hand made in Dublin from pure, un-dyed wool.
The puncture marks reference the 10th century Brandub board, found in 1932 during the excavation of a 'crannog', or lake dwelling at Ballinderry, West Meath, Ireland. In De Paor’s modern version of the game, the pivotal character is An Brandub. She is the female war goddess in folklore who appears as a raven. Her central perch puncture is marked inside by red nail polish.
Felt was chosen because it is natural, has an affinity with Irish sheep-farming and tradition. It is tactile, pleasant to rest ones hand on but, more importantly, it was designed to wrap snugly around it’s charges. Like mover’s felt, it is the best material to cosset the small sculptures that are the playing pieces. Mimicking Saint Brigid’s cloak, it is a piece of cloth that unfurls to become ‘land’ and then rolls back to hide and shelter it’s inhabitants. There is delight in the way the turf pieces are designed to puzzle together into a column. A rubber band disciplines the combatants before they are rolled, as soft-shelled crabs might, into a sushi roll. The vibrant green of the rubber band bites against the deep, natural colours of the turf and wool. It alludes to the common domestic fuel in Ireland; the bale of moulded peat briquettes.