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Donegal businessman hitting the right notes in China

China bound... Alistair Hay and Alan McLaughlin.

China bound… Alistair Hay and Alan McLaughlin.


A DONEGAL guitar maker flies out to China on Thursday to get one of his unique instruments decorated with Eastern philosophy-influenced art.
Alistair Hay from St Johnston has commissioned a Canadian artist, whom he first met on a chance meeting in Donegal over two decades ago, to carry out the work.
The founder and driving force behind Emerald Guitars, one of the leading carbon fibre guitar companies in the world, first met the artist, Kristel Ouwehand, in 1992.
Kristel was travelling the world, financing herself through painting, and was invited by the Hay family to stay at their home for a few days upon their encounter on Main Street, Letterkenny.
While they did manage to stay in touch for a little while after, contact was lost at one stage, but thankfully re-established through the internet four years ago.
Having found each other again on the internet, Alistair and Kristel decided they would love to work on a project together some day, if the opportunity arose.
Four years later, an Emerald Guitars customer contacted Alistair requesting a custom-made nine-string guitar.
As if this wasn’t unique in itself, the customer also said that he would like his guitar to feature Eastern philosophy-influenced art. This prompted Alistair to contact his old friend.
“It’s bringing a story full circle; that first connection with Kristel, all those years ago, reconnecting with her in her home in China and creating a very special piece for one of our customers,” said Alistair.

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