Design Moment: Carrigaline pottery, c. 1928
Based on a hunch by Hodder Roberts that pottery could be made from local clay in Cork
In 1928, Hodder Walworth Blacker Roberts, who lived in Mount Rivers House in Carrigaline, Co Cork, had empty industrial buildings following the closure of his mill and a feeling that as bricks were made in the locality, the clay could also be used to make pottery.
To research his idea, he visited the home of pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, where he met young potter Louis T Keeling, who agreed to move to Ireland to work for him.
Carrigaline Pottery was a success from the start, largely making practical homely everyday tableware but also going on to produce a vast array of shamrock-festooned products for the burgeoning tourist trade. At its height it was the major employer in the area, with more than 200 workers. In the 1930s, such was the success of the enterprise that clay had to be imported from England to meet the demand for Carrigaline Pottery.
Now we look at the shamrock-shaped ashtrays, wall plates featuring thatched cottages, and shamrock-decorated milk and creamers, as being a bit twee. But the sturdy homeware is more appealing – including the pottery’s take on the famous blue and white striped Cornishware which itself was created in 1928. The Cork pottery also did a version – tea sets and plates that would be familiar in very many Irish homes – that featured dark beige and brown stripes.
Roberts died in 1952 but the pottery continued, although financial difficulties throughout the 1970s saw it close at the end of the decade. There is a small collection of Carrigaline Pottery in the National Museum at Collins Barracks.