Community invited to contribute to new Arklow Pottery Heritage Project

A recent funding application made by Arklow Town Team to The Heritage Council, under the Community Heritage Grant Scheme, has been successful.  The ‘Arklow Pottery Online’ project aims to create a digital pottery database, photo archive and oral history record capturing the history and heritage of Arklow Pottery.  The project, when completed, will be accessible via a new website where it will be available for future generations to engage with and learn about the heritage of one of regions most important social and economic entities. 

The Heritage Council grant of €20,000 will be used to bring together the stories of Arklow Pottery, and to create an online database of backstamps and pottery patterns.  A number of expert heritage practitioners will be involved including Chantal Fortune of Fortune’s Antiques, who herself has a collection of much sought after early Arklow Pottery.  Eamonn & Karen Bermingham of Arklow Photo & Framing will be working on compiling new photography of key pottery pieces and digitizing all the old photos and videos for use on the website.   Michael Fortune of folklore.ie will be recording the stories of the pottery workers or those in the community with a connection to the Pottery who have an interesting story to tell!   

Also planned is a ‘Arklow Pottery Heritage Trail’ which will connect the main local points of interest relating to Arklow Pottery, to include sites like South Quay, Arklow Maritime Museum, Bridgewater Shopping Centre and the Arklow Bay Hotel, among others.  The trail will be family friendly and scannable QR codes at each site will link back to the website for more information about the heritage of Arklow Pottery. 

To help build up as much information as possible, the community are invited to take a “Trip Down Memory Lane” where they will have the opportunity to swap stories with one another, and share information with the project team.  Anyone who worked in Arklow Pottery or has a connection to it, is asked to come to Arklow Library on Saturday 14th May, from 2pm to 4pm, where the project team will aim to gather as many stories as possible.  Members of the public can also bring along any old original photos or documents which will be copied on the day for inclusion in the archive. 

Irene Sweeny of Arklow Town Team has been collecting donations of Arklow Pottery for several years and has been a driving force behind establishing an Arklow Pottery Museum. In 2018, planning permission was granted to construct a museum in Abbey Lane, however securing adequate funding has been a stumbling block.  Irene says; “we are continuing to make steps towards having an Arklow Pottery Museum that people can visit and engage with. In the meantime, we are delighted to receive funding for this project which will be an asset to any future museum.  It is most important to us to capture the knowledge now before it is lost, and we are delighted to see that the Heritage Council supports this project and recognise the value and importance of recording the stories of Arklow Pottery.  We are also encouraged by the support from the local community and farther afield, and the interest there has been since the project details were announced last week and would like to thank everyone who has offered to contribute so far”.

The project team are also looking to hear from collectors who would be happy to have some of their pieces professionally photographed – particularly older or more unusual pieces and backstamps.  The photography can take place wherever the pottery normally resides without the need to move precious items. 

To make a contribution please contact the project team – email arklowpottery@gmail.com or call Allison on 089 4414442 or find details on the Arklow Town Team Facebook page.

This project is funded by the Heritage Council and Arklow Town Team would like to extend their gratitude to them for this funding. 

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