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A former underwater bomb detective who discovered a WWII German bomber has unveiled a range of rainforest friendly soap at the National Crafts and Design Fair at Dublin’s RDS.

Clare man Tony Hoynes is exhibiting his minimal-packaging Palm Free Irish Soap which do not contain any artificial fragrances, preservatives, parabens, preservatives or GMOs.

Tony, from Killaloe, used to supply handmade soap to upmarket stores such as Fortnum and Mason in London before he retrained in the Middle East as a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) pilot.

“I used to operate a submarine to detect the many unexploded bombs which were dropped into the North Sea during the war.

“Our jobs were to identify the bombs on the sea bed so that they could be rendered safe in preparation for windfarms to be installed in the area.

“On one occasion we found a spherical object which we thought was a bomb but turned out to be the engine of a World War Two German Heinkel bomber which had crashed in the North Sea.

“We uncovered the engine, bearing the identification number, and the wing and then declared it to the authorities for excavation.”

He then revisited the soap industry two years ago after research made him decide against using palm oil.

The range of six handmade soaps are nourished with exotic oils of shea nut, cocoa butter and olive oil to gently cleanse, moisturise and perfume your skin.

“There is nothing wrong with palm oil itself but vast swathes of precious rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia are being lost on a daily basis to make room for palm oil plantations,” he said.

“We’re not about to save the world but our ethical approach is something that we believe in.”

Record-breaking crowds of over 40,000 are expected to generate more than €1m per day in sales at over 600 stands at the biggest-ever five-day event, which runs until Sunday.

Ireland’s top craftspeople and designers from fashion to jewellery and beyond will be exhibiting their cutting-edge wares alongside the more traditional fare.

“This annual fair is vital to the industry as a whole and it is estimated that it generates enough business to keep most of the exhibitors busy for at least four months of the year,” said organiser Patrick O’Sullivan.

“Everything from artisan foods to fashion and jewellery are on display and because the goods are handmade, they have the added distinction of being unique.

“We’re also very proud of the fact that the Fair has grown and has added annually to the local economy, with footfall consistently growing by 10% per annum over the past five years.

“With so much diversity under one roof, and prices starting from as little as €5, the Fair offers Ireland’s largest Christmas gift shopping experience.”

There is also a Spectacular Christmas Food Emporium which features over 120 artisan food producers, taste-tempting visitors with the best of the season’s fare.

The National Crafts and Design Fair 2016 takes place at the RDS Main Hall until Sunday December 4. Full details at www.nationalcraftsfair.ie

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