Irish Dresden was set up in Dromcollogher in 1962 by a family who fled East Germany after the second World War. The delicate and elaborate pieces made at Irish Dresden originated from moulds which the Saar family managed to bring with them when they left Germany as refugees.
The company had a range of different suites of dresden. The moulded figurines with delicate lace frills and designs were hand painted and given a glazed finish. Some of the special master designs can be found in the White House, 10 Downing Street, Chequers and other famous residences.
Gerard Collins, who lives in nearby Abbeyfeale, recalled that as minister for foreign affairs he and other Irish political leaders often presented Irish Dresden pieces to visiting dignitaries.
He said: “I also brought some Irish Dresden made in Dromcollogher when going abroad on official duties to present to various world leaders. They were always very well received. They were quality gifts, showing the craftsmanship of the Irish workforce. I presented some Irish Dresden to Chinese leaders on a visit there and they were fascinated at the detail of the designs and the work that went into them.”
Seamus Stack, chairman of Dromcollogher Community Council, said they were all saddened to learn that the company is now to close.
He recalled: “The company started up in the old primary school, and later moved its manufacturing to the parish hall while a purpose-built factory was constructed nearby. The produce was an immediate success and summer tour buses would call to the factory where visitors, mainly Americans, would see the various stages of manufacture and the gift shop did a brisk trade. I often saw two buses a day calling.”
Local TD John Cregan, who lives in Dromcollogher, said the economic downturn had affected sales of many luxury goods and Irish Dresden had found the economic situation very difficult to cope with and led to the closure of the factory.
Mr Cregan said: “My late father Tom, who was a member of Limerick County Council with the late Gerry Keyes and others, especially Muintir na Tíre, had worked hard to secure employment in Dromcollogher and welcomed the Saars when they established here.”
Meanwhile, bottle water company Ballygowan has halted production at its plant in Newcastle West. Up to 20 of the 50 workers have been sent home on unpaid leave for a week. The shutdown is part of a cost-saving move by the owners Britvic Ireland which has closed down all its Irish operations for a week.
The Newcastle West plant is currently undergoing a major technology upgrading. Michael Curtin, manager of Ballygowan, said the ongoing investment programme was very positive for the future of the company.
Every staff member, including himself, will have to take a week of unpaid leave during the year.