When I travel to Ireland, I can’t resist picking up a piece of local pottery to bring home with me. I’m not alone.
“There’s a buzz about Irish ceramics; it has that link to nature,” said Karen Hennessy, chief executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. “They’re made from a place of practicality to be used as household pieces, not just to put on a shelf to adorn.”
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To map your own Irish pottery trail, or window shop online, visit the ceramics section of Design Ireland, a website created by the council. There is also a shopping site, which showcases ceramists (and other Irish artisans from woodcarvers to weavers). Meanwhile, the Irish Craft Studio Experience provides a map of studios open to visitors, craft galleries and retail shops.
Once in Ireland, I like to visit Nicholas Mosse’s pottery shop and studio tucked alongside the River Nore in Bennettsbridge in County Kilkenny. For more than four decades, Mr. Mosse himself has produced pottery from within a restored mill that dates from 1503. His wife, Susan, an American botanical artist, designs a new pattern, in simple spongeware style, each year. Mr. Mosse and his team then transmute her delicate designs into handpainted pieces via a 20-step process.
Judy Greene opened her workshop on Kirwans Lane in Galway in 1982 with a focus on hand-thrown terra-cotta clay evoking the wild Connemara terrain just north of town. Her collections range from dinnerware to flower pots. A seven-inch bluebell-pattern vase might sell for around €50.
A favorite stop for a bowl of steaming homemade soup and a keepsake is Louis Mulcahy. The cafe and pottery studio is nestled along a steep cliffside on the twisty, 30-mile coastal Slea Head Drive in County Kerry near the town of Dingle. Mr. Mulcahy has made his own glazes and thrown pottery for nearly 50 years; his 10-inch-wide denim-hued bowl is a favorite.
Although these potteries are well established, there is a rising tide of Irish ceramists exploring new shapes and techniques from Dublin to Dingle to Donegal. In Dublin, visit Laura Magahy’s four-year-oldArran Street East studio, on Little Green Street. Ms. Magahy’s shapely hand-thrown goods glow with glaze palettes named after the various fruit and vegetables sold wholesale at the produce market that is its home. There are sturdy jugs made of stoneware in a glaze “inspired” by a pink grapefruit or pomegranate, or simple bowls in a bright lemon-hued glaze — to name a few of the myriad colors available.
Ruth Power named her three-year-old Dublin-based pottery business, Danu Ceramics, after the ancient Celtic goddess of earth and creativity. Her handiwork is available online, but is also sold at several Dublin shops, including the Kilkenny Shop, Jam Art Factory and the Arnotts department store. Tiny
Also in Dublin is the Irish Design Shop at 41 Drury Street, which features some of Ireland’s hottest crafters including Rebecca Killen, who is known for her handmade ceramic milk bottles painted in white and cobalt with hints of gold luster that evoke the antique bottles she has collected over the years.
Discerning shoppers with bigger budgets should consider the clay-based objets d’art at SO Fine Art Editions in the Powerscourt Townhouse Center. Beyond Dublin, Mill Cove Galleries specializes in Irish ceramics, operating a gallery in Kenmare and another on the Beara Peninsula with four acres of sculpture gardens.
For serious collectors who might not make it to Ireland, the Portfolio website spotlights more than 140 Irish artists, including ceramists such as Grainne Watts, Adam Frew, Alison Kay and Mike Byrne. The site also provides detailed information about where to track down their one-of-a kind artworks, which can run from €100 to more than €1,000.
“The lovely thing about buying Irish ceramics is there is a piece for every pocket,” Ms. Hennessy said.