• By Davoc
  • 2 November, 2008
  • Comments Off on Belleek
The story of how the world famous Belleek pottery started reads like a fairy story.  In 1849, a young man inherited a large estate close to the village of Belleek in County Fermanagh.  This 26 year- old benevolent landlord, seeing the plight of his tenants after the famine, resolves to do something about it.  He searched his lands and found all the necessary materials to make pottery - fieldspar, kaolin, flint clay and shale.  He then discovered that the river Erne, also running through his property, would be ideal to drive a mill wheel suitable to grind these components into liquid potter's clay.  Next he acquired partners for his venture, and he pulled strings for a rail service for Belleek.  Less than ten years later, on Thursday 18th November 1858, the foundation stone was laid.  By the end of that year, earthenware was being produced. The Belleek trademarks are unmistakably Irish, the wolfhound, round tower, harp and shamrocks have been used since 1863.  These symbols with some variations are still used today.  There are at least eight different periods, either in the ribbon, colour or styles.  Most of the early Belleek marks are minimalist, with maybe only one word "Belleek" being used.  In general the more marks the later the piece. The most well known and expensive Belleek pottery is the Parian Ware, paper thin and decorated with all sorts of flowers, shells, leaves and glazed over with wonderful 'mother of pearl' lustre. The factory employs over 200 people and the visitor centre is now one of the top attractions in Ulster.Belleek