Sunday, March 18, 2012

"There are only two kinds of people in the world,

The Irish and those who wish they were."

I am part Irish...mother's side of the family are Devines...and part Dutch on my father's side...so I have enough stubborn speech in my genes to outlast anyone even though years ago I did kiss the Blarney Stone!

But even though I am a day late, I need to pay homage to Ireland. I "lucked" into some neat Irish plates....these are from an Irish manufacturer who is no longer in business...it is not just American companies folding. But, I did not realize that there were so many Irish potteries. Throughout the 20th Century there were a number of potteries in Ireland manufacturing goods in volume using largely or wholly mechanized methods, their products ranging from everyday utilitarian ware to fine ware. Probably the best-known of these is Belleek Pottery, established in the 19th Century and still producing their sought-after fine Parian ware today. I received a piece as a wedding gift in 1976. As with many other manufacturing industries, the Irish pottery trade was severely affected by large-scale imports of cheaper products from the Far East, and a number of potteries established during the 20th Century are no longer in production.

Arklow Pottery was founded in the 1930’s. From my research, they went to England for guidance bringing in nearly 30 potters from the Staffordshire Potteries to teach their 150 employees the tricks of the trade involved in ceramic production.
In their early earthenware, a mixture of hand painting and transfer prints were used - different colored pansies, daisies and wild flowers. The blending of different techniques was well described in the Irish press in 1937 -"No one seems to paint a complete pattern, but each article, cup, saucer, jug or bowl is passed from one worker to another down a long table. One does a flower, another a stem and so on."
During World War II, the quality of Arklow Pottery was impacted by restrictions on the coal used in their firing ovens. Slack, wood and turf were used as replacement to coal during these lean years, but they maintained production of tableware and decorative ware.

Towards the end of the 1990s. it was taken over by Noritake, the famous Japanese Company who is still in business, but they closed Arklow in 1999. Rather ironic that the same companies that put businesses out of business buy the companies giving them hope, only to dash their production lines.

But, it is the cycle of business...unlike nature that returns every year, companies do not always have the ability to bloom again.So, remember,
"Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don't want to press your luck."

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