Hi Everyone. So last week we took a trip to Mayo to visit the wonderful craftspeople at Foxford Woolen Mills. This week, we’re heading to the heart of the Irish midlands to drop by the workshop of Mullingar Pewter. Pewter has a long history in Ireland, going back over 800 years.
We know that Mullingar Pewter’s founder Peter Collins helped train and employ local artisans, reviving the crafts of casting and finishing in Ireland in the 1970s. So it’s over to Peter to give us the lowdown.
The Story of Mullingar Pewter
Hi Peter! Can you tell us how Mullingar Pewter came to be?
There was something fateful about the founding of Mullingar Pewter! After I left school in 1972, I went to work in Germany. By chance, I got a job in a pewter factory.
It got me thinking about pewter craft in Ireland today and I felt something had been lost. So I spent two years learning the craft in Germany. Then I came home to Mullingar in 1974 and set about reviving pewter craft locally. I made sure our craftspeople were specially trained in all of the old casting methods – assembly and hand finishing. When I founded Mullingar Pewter, I wanted it to link back through the centuries, giving people who love Ireland experience of the pewter that decorated the tables of our old castles and taverns.
What is pewter exactly?
Pewter is really old material. It goes back to the Bronze Age and is even found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings and pharaohs. It was originally made with lead. The lead was eliminated a few hundred years ago. It is now made mostly of tin and a small amount of copper and antimony.
What is the history of pewter in Ireland?
The history of pewter in Ireland goes back some 800 years. By the time I stumbled across it in Germany, the craft of pewter making had fallen out of use at home. While pewter is also much more affordable now, a few hundred years ago, pewter was only available to the wealthy.
What makes your company, Mullingar Pewter, Irish?
Oh, everything! Literally! From our location in County Westmeath to the pieces we make. Mullingar Pewter mines the rich Irish traditions of art and symbolism. All of our designs are inspired by Celtic art and history. The patterns you see on our products, you also see in the most famous pieces of Irish art like the Book of Kells so that age-old symbolism is what inspires our design and the things we make. It’s everywhere in Ireland, no matter where you look – Newgrange is a famous example.
What kind of things do you craft?
The collection of things we make all look familiar. That’s because our watches, flasks, mugs and candlesticks have long been crafted from pewter in Ireland. We try to combine those traditions with a touch of uniqueness. We think about new uses for traditional crafts and designs. People come to us looking for that – authentic Irishness combined with something you won’t find anywhere else. So that’s what we do.
What’s your favorite thing about working for Mullingar Pewter?
It’s the making! The most satisfying thing about founding this company is creating beautiful Irish things. Irish people are creative. I love creating something from nothing, making pewter, casting a beautiful Irish object from that pewter. Being inspired by old things – Celtic art and history – to make something new, a pewter gift that people can send to loved ones around the world.
What makes Mullingar Pewter special?
I’d say it’s that we are completely and utterly Irish. It’s not always easy to find authentic Irish things now because a lot of things aren’t actually designed or made in Ireland. Many things that look Irish are shipped to the USA from abroad.
Why did you choose The Irish Store?
The Irish Store is very important to us. You appreciate the tradition behind Irish-made products while your customers appreciate the quality and history of Irish-made products so it was important to us to find a store that shares our love of authentic Irish craftsmanship. We found that in The Irish Store.
So there you have the story of Mullingar Pewter, one of our highly valued makers here at The Irish Store.
It’s never been a better time to shop Mullingar Pewter and our full collection of all things Irish. We’re having our biggest ever clearance sale with up to 75% off so grab yourself a bargain today while stocks last!
See you next week
Slán go fóill!