Limerick tea towel celebrates a city often hung out to dry

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Artist Barbara Hartigan with her design for the LIMERICK Tea Towel [Picture: Dermot Lynch]
The 26th Annual Castleconnell Craft Fair takes place this Bank Holiday Weekend – and for the second year in a row Barbara Hartigan’s tea towels are sure to be a best-seller.

The 26th Annual Castleconnell Craft Fair takes place this Bank Holiday Weekend – and for the second year in a row Barbara Hartigan’s tea towels are sure to be a best-seller.

The artist will join over 40 other craftworkers in the Castle Oaks Hotel on Sunday and Monday, October 26 and 27 in the Castle Oaks Hotel showcasing the very best of jewellery, paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, wood-turning and lots more.

Last year, Barbara sold over 450 tea towels depicting scenes in Castleconnell at the fair. She sold almost 1,000 in total. They proved particularly popular with ex-patriots.

“They were sent all over the world. I got so much feedback from emigrants in places that I had never even heard of,” said Barbara.

This year she has designed a Limerick city tea towel that shows 10 well-known landmarks – Thomond Bridge, King John’s Castle, Treaty Stone, civic offices, Shannon Rowing Club, Milk Market, Thomond Park, Hunt Museum with its two horses outside, St Mary’s Cathedral and St John’s Cathedral.

The venture was inspired by her life-time of great pride in being a Limerick woman.

“Sometimes we need to go away and come back to appreciate what we have. We need to see the city through the eyes of visitors and returned emigrants. We should be proud of Limerick. It has got so much to offer. People go to some places just because they have been really well advertised by the tourist boards and written up as fantastic places to visit.

“Limerick is a beautiful city – the river, castle, all the bridges, the cathedrals... There is nothing to be ashamed of. We’re far too keen to put ourselves down. I’ve always felt show the positive and shout about the positive. My blood boils when people say something negative about Limerick. It is a hidden gem. I know there are blackspots but everywhere has blackspots,” said Barbara.

The images are printed on 100 per cent cotton in black and white with a green border. The project is totally self-funded and Barbara has neither received or looked for sponsorship or grants.

The tea towels will be on sale at €8 each or two for €15 at Castleconnell Craft Fair. They are also available by emailing info@barbarahartigan.com or from the Framing Centre on Thomas Street.

“I went to all the tourist places, they all have exactly the same things and are not unique to Limerick. Having researched at length, I have concluded that there is virtually nothing available, at reasonable cost, unbreakable and functional, that could be a very specific souvenir of this fine old city.

“I’m really doing it to promote Limerick in some shape or form. If tourists have something like that to buy and bring home they may pass on the word to somebody else to come visit,” said Barbara. Or for those from County Limerick and now living abroad it will spark fond memories of their homeplace. Indeed, many of the tea towels will never dry crockery as they are proudly hung on walls.