I’m not all that much into pottery… Ok, I’m not “into” it at all. But Belleek Pottery holds a very special place in Northern Ireland’s cultural and commercial heritage, and it was our first stop once we crossed the Lough Erne. In fact, the factory is perched right on the banks of the river, at the end of the bridge connecting north and south Ireland.

Original and unique pieces are made using traditional methods passed down for more than a century and a half, as this factory was established in 1857. Our tour guide, a young woman in her… I’m guessing early 30s?… was knowledgeable about all facets of production, and took us from station to station, demonstrating the process.

dsc06881I was reminded of the Waterford “factory,” in which you see only a sampling of what goes on behind closed doors, but definitely get a taste of the enormous amount of time and talent that goes into each piece.

We were shown a small “trinket” type basket that took one worker a week to complete! I watched as she added tiny little “embellishments” to the edges of one such basket, and thought about how shaky my hands are the minute I need them to do some delicate, precise little maneuver. Heck, I could hardly hold the camera still enough to take the photos! Nope, this was not the job for me!

After our guided tour, we could opt to take a walk around the on-site museum, visit the audio visual theatre and showroom and enjoy refreshments in the restaurant. There was, of course, also a gift shop where we could purchase authentic Belleek products. I opted out of that, too!