Helena Golden Willow Woman

Cultural heritage is about so much more than the craft itself. It is about community, people coming together, memories shared and stories told.

It is about building something with our hands and our hearts.

The Leitrim Basket Project

In association with Leitrim County Council Heritage Office and Creative Ireland.

This project explores the historical context, techniques, materials, and the enduring cultural significance of basketmaking in the 1900’s with particular emphasis on the daily use of willow baskets for teeming (draining the water off) boiled potatoes throughout County Leitrim. Two baskets of this nature, from County Leitrim, are held at The National Museum of Ireland.

A short film features Rosa Meehan, the National Museum of Country Life’s Curator, discussing the basket’s origins and Leitrim’s history. Expert basket maker Helena Golden, The Willow Woman, demonstrates the craft step by step and shares local knowledge collected during the project. Personal narratives from those who used the ‘teeming basket’ offer insights. Helena Golden’s report, “Leitrim Basket Project – Teeming the Potatoes,” presents memories, history, and instructions for making the basket.

Heritage in Schools

Providing engaging and interactive learning through heritage craft and practical workshops. These workshops are part funded by the Heritage Council of Ireland.

Helena is a registered Heritage Specialist with the Heritage in Schools Scheme which provides a panel of Specialists who visit primary schools (in-person or virtually) to help children and their teachers learn about and appreciate their local heritage. The Scheme supports the stated aims and objectives of the Social, Scientific and Environmental Education (SESE) curriculum and provides an additional educational tool and resource for teachers.

All Heritage Specialists are Garda vetted and undergo training with the Heritage Council in order to take part in the scheme.

View Helena’s Heritage in Schools profile here:

Heritage in schools specialist
The Heritage Council Logo

Arts In Education

Teacher Artist Partnership (TAP) and Bringing Live Arts to Students and Teachers (BLAST) 

Helena has completed the prestigious TAP Programme (Teacher Artist Partnership) focussing on arts and creativity in school.   In collaboration with teachers and students,  TAP and BLAST residencies support schools in Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon to work with Helena on creative, imaginative and fun projects that incorporate the tactile, traditional craft of Willow Weaving.

Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme

Collaboration with South West Mayo Development Company

With the goal of tackling issues around isolation on Clare Island through the facilitation of Heritage Craft.

Clare Island Social Inclusion Project

Leitrim Women Through Time Project

Collaboration with Leitrim Women Through Time

The event celebrated the connection between Leitrim women and traditional crafts, and offered the opportunity for everyone to learn, share, and try out some of the crafts for themselves! Helena was part of an interactive workshop, demonstrating basketry and weaving. This was one of the themes explored as part of the project, which were central to understanding Leitrim women’s history. Helena was also interviewed as part of this wonderful project.

The Mesocosms Project 2022

Collaboration with the award winning artist Christine Mackey

An exciting collaboration with Artist Christine Mackey and Corryeolous Womens Group, a floating island of planted baskets was launched onto Blackrock Pond in anticipation of the arrival of the Eco ShowBoat as it made its way up the Shannon waterways from Limerick to Enniskillen and visiting projects along the way aimed at raising awareness of climate change.  

Christine Mackey Mecocosm

Irish Times Article

Logo for Creative Ireland

Floating Baskets


Leitrim Association of People with Disabilities – There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s how the Light gets in 

Bringing people together with shared interests and common goals in a social and supportive capacity is key to a better quality of life. Learning new skills in a comfortable setting improves wellbeing, develops friendships and generally has everyone enjoying a laughing as was the case in my most recent programme with LAPWD. This project had a light filled summery theme. 

Logo for Creative Ireland

Lough Erne Landscape Partnership 

The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership has been established to ensure that the areas unique built, natural and cultural heritage is protected, enhanced and cherished by all. With this in mind, Helena’s work with the Partnership since 2020 has helped to rekindle and support the tradition of Willow Weaving in the Lough Erne area. From her early work via an innovative online programme to a long term in-person willow weaving programme, numerous local people have learned and now continue to practice and develop the skills of traditional Basket Weaving resulting in a lasting legacy to complement the ethos of LELP. 

Age Friendly Ireland / Active Retirement Ireland  

The traditional craft of Basket Making evokes memories for many older people and Helena works with groups of older people throughout Ireland to deliver Basket Making Workshop or Interactive DemosOn St. Brigid’s Day 2023, Helena facilitated a Brigid’s Day workshop with a large group of older people from Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo and Donegal.

Age Action Ireland

Logo for Creative Ireland

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

A Willow Weaving Project with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Helena Golden Willow Woman developing a neglected garden into a vibrant, sanctuary with willow fedging and hand made Bird Houses amongst the newly planted fruit trees, herbs, flowers and vegetables. 

Women’s Groups / ICA / Men’s Groups / Family Resource Centres/ Community Groups

Helena is  a passionate advocate for community, heritage craft, inclusivity and well-being and connects with various groups across the community. With her skilled hands and a heart dedicated to promoting the art of willow weaving, she visits Women’s Groups, ICA (Irish Countrywomen’s Association) meetings, Men’s Groups, and Family Resource Centres across Ireland.

Helena’s interactive demonstrations and workshops not only showcase the timeless craft of willow weaving but also serve as a powerful catalyst for fostering a sense of togetherness. Through her weaving sessions, she knits the threads of tradition and innovation, emphasizing the importance of preserving our rich cultural heritage.

Heritage Week 

The annual celebration of Ireland’s cultural, built and natural heritage, Heritage Week 2023 sees Helena delivering Basket Making workshops throughout Monaghan, Roscommon and Leitrim, of course!  

Drumhierney Woodland Hideaway 

A Willow Weaving and Hot Tub Package at the 100 acre woodland sanctuary.  Weave a willow basket during your stay and take home that precious memento of your stay at Drumhierney. And if you happen to stay at Wild Willow Lodge, be sure to check out Helena’s custom made Willow Skib and The Willow Clock adorning the walls. 


I was lucky enough to help a very special family in Athlone on The Big Build Ireland .  The atmosphere and enthusiasm on site was absolutely amazing. Community is everything and to see so many people come out to be a part of this build and help out a family is such an uplifting experience. I hope this lovely family enjoy their new home and their new Willow Teepee.



ACORNS Profile

Irish Farmers Journal

Irish Country Living

The Phoenix


Listen to my Ocean FM interview with Brendan Murray where we chat willow weaving and the BIG career change that brought me to this wonderful world of basketry.