'Trailblazer' founder of Irish Dresden to be laid to rest in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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'Trailblazer' founder of Irish Dresden to be laid to rest in Limerick

Johanna Saar, pictured front with her three daughters after winning the International Veuve Clicquot Award for Business Women of the Year 1987

THE founder of Irish Dresden Johanna Saar is to be laid to rest in the county she’s called home for the past 60 years tomorrow.

There is sadness across Limerick at the passing of Ms Sarr who alongside husband Oskar brought Müller Volkstedt over to the county and renamed it Irish Dresden in Dromcollogher.

At its peak, the firm employed between 50 and 60 people handcrafting beautiful porcelain figurines and giftware,  which they exported across the globe.

Johanna, who died on Tuesday, escaped Nazi Germany, but sadly lost her husband just four years after their move to Limerick in 1962.

It left the running of the business to Johanna and her daughter Sabina. 

Johanna was the mother of Angelika an aunt of Fine Gael Councillor Daniel Butler, who describes her as a "trailblazer".

“She was an incredible woman with an incredible story. She was incredibly resilient, quiet and reserved in a lot of ways. But great stories to tell. A recognised businesswoman. You don’t get to where she got to without hard work, diligence and commitment,” he said.

In 1987, Johanna won the title of international businesswoman of the year, and earnt a slot on RTE’s Late Late Show as a result.

“At the time, it was massive. It was THE thing to be on at the time,” Cllr Butler recalled.

“When Irish Dresden came to Limerick, it put us on the map. It was an international, global brand. I know the people of Dromcollogher are very proud of the connection to it,” he said.

The family remained in the town near the Cork border.

Asked how he feels Johanna would like to be remembered, Cllr Butler said: “I think she’d like to be remembered as a mother and a grandmother first and foremost. Her family was most important to her. After that, I think she would like to be remembered as something of a trailblazer for her time. She led the way for businesswomen in Ireland to be able to say, look, this is what you can achieve as a woman in a male-dominated world. Her legacy is incredible.”

The chairman of Limerick’s County Board John Cregan, a native of Dromcollogher said: “She was an incredible woman who had a tremendous drive to succeed.”

He remembers in his youth, coachloads of tourists visiting the town for Irish Dresden.

“American visitors in particular would bring a lot of business to the factory. It was a success story as far as Dromcollogher was concerned. It put the town on the map. It became an international brand,” said the former Fianna Fail TD, “It’s a sad day for our community and the family.”

Johanna died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family.

She is the dearly loved mother of Sabina, Angelika, Cornelia and Susanne. Sadly missed by her sister Gerda, nephew, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family and friends.

The funeral cortege will depart her residence on Friday at 11.00am, en route to St Nicholas Church of Ireland, Adare for 12.00 noon Service, followed by burial in St Nicholas' Cemetery Adare.

Cards and letters of sympathy can be sent to Joseph Cross and sons, 2 Lower Gerald Griffin St, Limerick.

May she rest in peace.