When Louis Mulcahy won first prize for pottery in the National Crafts Competition in 1975, he decided to move his workshop from Dublin to Dingle.
He and Lisbeth, with their three young children, left secure employment in television, sold their house and invested their savings in the then very risky venture.
His vision was to produce the aesthetically and technically best pottery and to develop a studio/workshop which would leave an indelible print on the long term history of Irish handcraft.
In this aspiration he has certainly succeeded In 2004 he became the first Irish craftsman to receive an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland in recognition of his artistry and the prosperity it has brought to his community.
In 2014 The Craft Council of Ireland described him as ‘the godfather of Irish craft’.
For nearly fifty years Louis has spent nearly every waking moment researching materials and producing new designs.
Unlike many modern potters he does not buy readymade glazes, but makes his own glazes from natural silica, fluxes and colouring minerals. His clay bodies are blended from stoneware and porcelain clays of the highest quality.
Louis Mulcahy pots are by far the strongest and most durable of all handmade Pottery. They are widely recognised for their unusual long life and resistance to abuse. His tableware is guaranteed oven, microwave and dishwasher proof.
Louis continues to make all his pots at his workshop in Dingle. His work is distinctively Irish and reflects the magnificent scale and wonderful colours in the landscape of his chosen home.
Later Louis developed a range of hand painted silk and cotton lampshades to compliment his bases and these started a similar trend.
In the late seventies he brought out a white glaze decorated with blue, peach and green. (Old pieces with the white glaze come up from time to time in Irish auction rooms and are sold for far above their original price.) Again that colour combination brought about a major change in Irish pottery taste. Eventually, due to the numbers of similar designs coming from other potters, he decided around 1985 to change again.
This time he devised a variegated navy blue with brushed oxide decoration.
That glaze is still one of the most popular in Ireland. In 1999 Louis added to his range a dark chocolate glaze with gold decoration. This is his current favourite glaze. He has devised many other glazes which he sells exclusively from his own shops. Those run from matt red to matt green, crystal green, bright blue, pure white and tan.
Louis Mulcahy designs and makes each one off piece. For multiples, such as tableware and lamp bases, he designs, makes and tests the prototypes, before handing over to his team of highly skilled assistants.
Over the years he has continually refined his shapes and glazes for beauty and his clay body for durability.
This devotion to quality has gained worldwide recognition and the pottery has a special reputation for its large pots and rich, lustrous glazes.
These special creations are available exclusively from his studio at Clogher strand west of Dingle.
Louis recently developed an exquisite range of fine porcelain pendant lamps. He has also developed a range of hand painted silk and cotton lampshades to complement his bases.
Louis’s sophisticated palette of colours is exciting and surprisingly modern for a pottery with such a long history. Through continuous dedicated experimentation and refinement he has maintained his position at the forefront of Irish studio pottery for over forty years.
Nowadays he decorates with lively freehand brush work and trailed coloured slips.
Continuously improving, he does not confine himself to thrown pottery, but works in all forms of creation including: jiggering, hand-casting, slabwork, hump-moulding and hand-building.
He concentrates now on sculptural pieces, including roosters, boats, wall hangings and individual hand formed and decorated art pieces.
For some years his handmade masks have been collected by international cognoscenti and lately he has begun to work on large figures.
These mysterious Druids are big, atmospheric and full of character. They are intended for public commissions and the homes of art lovers.