Tree of Life Arklow Ireland
The Arklow Pottery
This pottery was formally opened on Monday the 29 th July 1935, by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Seán Lemass. In 1934 in preparation for such a massive undertaking as Ireland 's second pottery, after Carrigaline, to be founded under the auspices of the Free State , designing classes were undertaken at the local Technical Institute, w 15 young women were recruited.
Initially 200 people were employed which included approximately thirty people from the Staffordshire Potteries employed to teach their Irish colleagues 'the tricks of the trade' involved in ceramic production.
In a lot of the early earthenware a mixture of hand painting and transfer prints were used - different coloured 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 Two the quality of Arklow Pottery was decreased due to importation restrictions on the coal used in their firing ovens. Slack, wood and turf were used as replacement to coal during these lean years.
Prof. T.A Smiddy, of University College Dublin was appointed Chairperson of the Pottery in 1947. Output was increased to 15,000 dozen pieces of ware a week. The majority of which consisted of cups, saucers, plates and teapots made to order for hotels, hospitals and the Irish Defence Forces. A cursory glance through Arklow Pottery's trade catalogue of the 1950s reveals dozens of organizations for example: Royal St. George's Yacht Club, The Golf Links in Rosses Point , Wynn's Hotel, Bord Na Mona, UCD, Mercer's Hospital, Dublin , The Shelbourne Hotel, and Dublin Airport .
In 1952 the pottery had succeeded in developing an Irish mineral that proclaimed earthenware almost as fine as chinaware. "A flint from Co. Cork makes finer ware that is at the same time more resistant to chipping and crazing. It is caolad flint silicate shipped from Ballincurra to Arklow". (Wicklow People - 9 th August 1952).
In addition to this caolad, iron free sand from Muckish Mountain in Co. Donegal was also used.
In the 1960s, under the auspices of John Ffrench, ceramicist, "Arklow Studio Pottery" was created. Other designers attached to the pottery at this time included Don McDonagh, Annie English and Patrick McElheron. The advent of Arklow Studio Pottery in the mid 1960s saw the start of a unique and significant stage in its history. Writing an article on Arklow Pottery in 1969, Don McDonagh, head of the Design Department, mentioned such wide-ranging artistic influences as consultant agencies, Kilkenny Design, The Atlantic City International Ceramic Exhibition and Scandinavian functional concerns.
Mrs. Rosie Kearon (née Redmond ) former decoration manager at Arklow Pottery met Susie Cooper in the early 1960s. Some of the Arklow coffee pots of this period - for example the design of "Quail" and "Black Fruit" show marked similarities to the design of Susie Cooper Bone China (1950-1961).
Arklow Pottery was taken over by the Japanese company, Noritake in 1976. This company ran into financial difficulties and liquidators were called in August 1998. Production ceased in April 1999, with the loss of 145 jobs.