Unique Potter’s Bench Unveilled In Belleek

The unveiling of a Potter’s Bench in the centre of the Border village of Belleek was a beautiful and poignant occasion.

The village of Belleek was positively buzzing as the bench was revealed to the sound of the pottery siren – a sound familiar to many and an audible connection to the pottery heritage within the community.

The bench showcased the coming together of art, history, heritage and culture, and whilst a simple event, it marked a rather important moment, one which has been in the making for numerous years.

Pictured at the unveiling of the Potter’s Bench in the heart of Belleek are Eleanor Wheeler, George Love, Rachel Love, Councillor John McClaughry (UUP, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council), Tommy Gallagher, Stephen Heron and Fergus Cleary. (Image: John McVitty)

The village has seen several improvements over the past few years with many volunteer hours invested in the village renewal scheme, as well as the work of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, to bring about the execution of a vision of Belleek as Ireland’s first heritage village.

Tommy Gallagher, Chairperson of the Belleek Development Heritage Group, and Councillor John McClaughry, UUP, Chair of the Council, remarked on the time and effort which has gone into creating such a fantastic focal point for the village, the area as a whole, and tourism point of interest.

The bench was unveiled by Fergus Cleary, archivist; Rachel Love, a staff member at Belleek Pottery; Stephen Heron, representing the community; and Eleanor Wheeler, the sculptor who designed the bench.

Eleanor photographed the potter’s hands and involved potters from the flowering department to add true-to-life details of a potter bench.

She said: “The Potter’s Bench is handmade from ceramic set in a steel frame. The work incorporates carved detail based on the famous Belleek basket weave pattern and photographs of pottery staff working on different stages of production.

“The bench legs are made using moulds used to produce Belleek pottery, whilst the seat illustrates the factory building and Irish wolfhound taken from the pottery logo.”

Also in attendance at the event was Kevin McHugh, mural artist, who has created two beautiful pieces of art for the village, further enriching the area’s cultural heritage.

Belleek Development Heritage Group wanted to make note of the time and dedication which the committee members and volunteers have put into the village renewal scheme.

A spokesperson for the group said: “A special word of thanks was noted by the group to The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, who contributed to the launch, and funders of the Village Renewal Scheme, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, who have been exceptional throughout the project.

“A big thank-you to these organisations for supporting the Belleek Development Heritage Group’s endeavours to develop Belleek as the first heritage village on the island of Ireland.”

(Source – Impartial Reporter – Local News – Victoria Johnston – 01/07/2024)

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