Every week we shine a light on a different object from our collections that you may not have seen before. This week we have a complete set of Royal Tara China, which includes six cups, six saucers, six side plates, a milk jug, sugar bowl and a bread and butter plate, dating to the 1950s. Beautifully decorated, this set has stood the test of time. China sets such as these, were usually only used for important occasions or events in a house. Often they may have been passed down through the generations of a family.
Royal Tara China Ltd. established in Galway in 1953 in a temporary premises. In 1954, the company purchased Mervue House, ancestral home of the Joyces, from Galway Corporation for £3183 (Irish Press, August 20, 1954). In 1955, a factory to produce china from raw clay was built to the rear of Mervue House at a cost of €45,000 and was officially opened by Seán Lemass, Tánaiste in November of that year (Connacht Tribune 1955). With new skills to be learned for the production and decoration of the china, employees were sent to Stoke-on-Trent, England, which is known for its ceramics industry, to be trained. In addition, Galway VEC in association with Royal Tara China Ltd., ran china decoration classes. Royal Tara China was renowned and was not only popular in Ireland, but was also exported to countries including Canada and the United States. While successful for many years, in 2003 the costs of manufacturing and market trends led to the closure of the factory, with the loss of 88 jobs. The site now houses a retail outlet.
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