Tag Archives: Limerick

‘Ranks’ – A New Exhibition by Limerick City Archives


Ranks – A Limerick Industry (Exhibition)

The Limerick City Archives in collaboration with the Hunt Museum has launched a unique exhibition this evening (Tuesday) on the former Ranks Flour Mills titled Ranks A Limerick Industry.  This exhibition is a collaboration between Limerick City Archives and the Hunt Museum and is based on the stories, memories and contributions of former Ranks workers and their families.

Ranks Flour Mills and grain ships were a crucial part of Limerick life over a span of several decades and it’s legacy provides an excellent example of life and work in Limerick’s recent past.

Through interpretative panels, installations, photographs, documents, industrial equipment and memorabilia the story of the working and social life of the Ranks workers is told. The exhibition will run from 13th March – 31st May 2012 at the Hunt Museum on Rutland St.

The acquisition of the Limerick Mills by Ranks in 1930 was hugely controversial as Ranks was a British company. However the company grew to the biggest or second biggest flour mill in the state during the Emergency. The mill gained further profitability during the 1960s but in the 1970s the company began to lose market share as Ireland’s accession to the EEC opened up the Irish flour market to cheap imports.  Rank eventually closed in 1983.

An Oral History Project was organised with the assistance of Mary Immaculate College, staff and students. Through a series of interviews Limerick City Council sought to record the experiences of those employed by Ranks.

City Archivist, Jacqui Hayes said “Over the past year Limerick City Council have conducted a series of oral history interviews and received material from former Ranks workers including an old wheat shovel, an old bastible for baking bread, a clock that was a given as a retirement present & even a high Nelly bicycle!”

Ranks reached into every home in Ireland with its products and advertisements. Its marketing strategy and brand awareness made it a recognisable household name. Traditionally Ranks was regarded as a good place to work, one that paid good wages, even contractors or casual workers were relatively well paid.

From an early date the Shannon Mills offered their employees benefits that few other workers locally or nationally received including the introduction of a pension scheme in 1947.

Tony Clohessy, a former employee remembers, “It was a happy-go-lucky place. Industrial relations were very good compared to other places a lot of companies around town were bad- never strikes there-everything was negotiated- the management contributed to the atmosphere- it was all first names unless you wanted it otherwise…Ranks was different- a pleasure.”

Future plans for the Ranks story are already in place. The City’s Archives commitment is to not just to record and preserve the people’s history but to bring our heritage to as wide an audience as possible. Alongside the publication of a book- the archives are opening a website dedicated to Ranks history and in co-operation with the Hunt Museum will host an exhibition dedicated to the Limerick Mills.

For more information or to enquire about guided exhibition tours, school workshops and lunchtime lectures please contact The Hunt Museum contact the Hunt Museum on +353 61 312833.

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Archives, Uncategorized


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Hustings for the Arts


National Campaign for the Arts



The arts community is mobilising. Once again the driving force is the National Campaign for the Arts group who are getting to grips with the masses, getting to grips with those seeking our votes in the General Election. The venues have decided, the candidates are bracing themselves and all that is needed is the support and commitment of as many arts workers and professionals as possible!!

Hustings are taking place in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick on Next Monday morning, February 14th. The times and venues are as follows:

Limerick, Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick City: 10.45am

Dublin, Project Arts Centre, Templebar: 10.45am

Cork, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork City: 10:45am

Galway, Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway City, 10.45am

In Dublin the arts spokespersons from all five political parties will attend a meeting to outline their respective arts policies and answer your questions. In the other city venues prospective T.D.’s  from their respective constituencies will attend.

The National Campaign for the Arts website has further details on these events and also on their other projects and find out how to further support this group who are supporting arts workers and arts jobs nationwide.  Visit the website here:

If you cannot make the hustings then when canvassers come to your front door, and they will come! The NCFA lists the following questions to challenge them with:

  • Does your party have a policy for the arts?
  • What do you believe are important values for a healthy and flourishing society?
  • What values would you bring to Government that would make a difference?
  • Does your party recognize the vital and valuable contribution the arts and creative industries could make to our national economic and social recovery?
  • Will your party invest in the arts?

The lead-up to February 25th polling day will be a vital period for ensuring the voice of the Arts community is heard and recognised. Be informed and be heard!






Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Culture


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Round up of news and events: 9 November 2010

  • Purpleheart theatre company, in association with the Focus theatre present the European premiere of Men of Tortuga at the Pembroke Street based Focus theatre. Written by Jason Wells. “Highly original and blisteringly relevant, Men of Tortuga exposes the barbarism encoded in corporate bureaucracy and is tailor-made for the age of terrorism, surveillance and corrupt global organizations”.


  • Limerick’s refurbished Belltable theatre will reopen to the public with a performance of Anything but Love, written by Mary Coll. The play opens on 29 November. The winter and Spring season at the Belltable has many highlights including children’s Christmas tale The Fourth Wise Man presented by Johnny Hanrahan, Rabbit Hole written by David Lindsay-Abaire and presented by the Quarry Players and The Mai written by Marina Carr and presented by Changing Times theatre company. Download the new programme of upcoming events at the Belltable here.              


  • Following on from the success of Follow a Museum Day and Follow a Library Day on Twitter, November 12th is the next day to mark on your Twitter event calendar. Follow an Archive Day will be a useful imitative for archive services to promote their on line presence and forge links and relationships with new users and other organisations. For all you need to know on Follow an Archive Day go to


  • Dublin’s Smock Alley theatre will host the new production by the young and interesting Company D theatre company.

    Company D's "Oedipus" at Smock Alley

    Their production of Oedipus at the stone walled and winding Boys School space at Smock Alley should be one to catch. With David Scott at the helm this company is always worth catching.


  • This past Saturday saw the “1916 and After” symposium held at the Moore Institute at NUI Galway and in conjunction with Trinity College, Dublin and Queens University, Belfast. A host of guest speakers include Brian O Conchubhair (University of Notre Dame) Mary Daly (University College Dublin) Nicholas Allen (NUI Galway) and Catriona Crowe of the National Archives of Ireland made the event a hugely engaging and successful commentary and assessment of the legacy of 1916, its causes and effects.

    1916 and After

    Two more symposiums will take place on Saturdays of 13th and 20th of November at Trinity College Dublin and Queens University Belfast respectively. Be sure not to miss.


  • In Cork, a programme of Civic Events to Commemorate the 90TH Anniversary of the Deaths of Former Lord Mayors MacCurtain and McSwiney and of the Burning of Cork. For a programme of events see:
  • Today sees the Theatre Forum Ireland-organised Open Space event hosted at NUI Galway Bailey Allen Hall. Theatre professionals from all over Ireland will meet to discuss the future for the performing arts. Though unfortunately could not make the event, Staged Reaction is anxiously awaiting feedback and will keep you posted. For more information see:


  • As Bank of Ireland’s sale of key works from Ireland’s artist heritage continues to stir controversy and comment, one of the featured artists, the modernist Louis le Brocquy will be paid homage at Dun Laoighre’s Pavillion theatre. Cold Dream Colour celebrates the life and work of this masterful artist in an evening of dance inspired
    by his paintings. Artistic Director, Morleigh Steinberg, brings together an international company of dancers and choreographers, including Liz Roche and Oguri, to create this new  production on the occasion of le Brocquy’s birthday. Original music by The Edge of U2 and Feltlike with Paul Chavez has been composed especially for the event. For more information see:
  • John Boyne

    Ireland Literature Exchange in association with Culture Ireland, UNESCO City of Literature and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon present a talk by novelist John Boyne as part of the ‘In Other Words’ series, which discusses translated Irish Literature in Irish libraries. Dublin City Public Library, ILAC Centre, D1.







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Posted by on November 9, 2010 in Archives, Culture, History


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Limerick’s Belltable Reopens it’s doors. . . Again!

On 26th November, just a few short and busy weeks away, the doors of Limerick’s Belltable arts centre will once again reopen to new premises. The Belltable has been undergoing extensive renovation at its home at 69 on Limerick’s O’Connell Street for over the last year. Gillian Fenton, marketing manager with the Belltable arts centre, said they are looking forward to the grand re-opening:  “The new space on 69 O’Connell Street is going to be a lot bigger and more accessible. Our programme will be able to take advantage of that, so it’s going to be great. Like every building project, there were always going to be hiccups along the way. The doors will open on November 15, but we will be putting all our focus on the official opening night, which will be November 26th,”

At this time of renewal and excitement surrounding this new departure in arts and culture in Limerick, it is fitting to delve into the archives and look at the coverage of the opening of the original Belltable in Limerick in 1981. An incredibly innovative departure for its time, it placed Limerick firmly in the cultural heart of the Mid-West. The following article is from the Irish Times, dated 1 September 1981: 

Belltable Takes OffSince its opening five months ago Limerick’s Arts Centre has proved a resounding success and hopes soon to be self-supporting.

I’d never go up to Dublin for longer than a couple of shows added Brid Dukes, Artistic Director of Belltable arts centre, who is happily ensconced in the Belltable while audiences filed in for the evening show of I Do Not Like Thee Dr. Fell. The stone trimmed, coloured glass front with its big white lamps looks not unlike a particularly nicely kept Victorian police station, stuck into half of a Georgian mansion.

Belltable got its name as a compromise by those Limerick people who remembered its old days as a cinema and wanted it to be named in memoriam as the Coliseum and those who wished it to be named after the Confraternity C.U., whose building it still remains, or Amharclann na Feile, who ran it for years before them. Henry Hubert Belltable was a Belgian army officer who founded the Holy Confraternity in Limerick and whose aged portrait adorns a wall: but after that, he fades from the scene in a mass of modern looking, painted brick work and bright blue tip-up seating.

Newspaper coverage of Belltable's opening in 1981

After a while in the Belltable you can see what the irrepressible and bouncy Brid means. It is situated in O’Connell Street, near Limerick’s Crescent and for decades those streets seemed like tattered petticoats betraying the city’s formally grandiose merchant past: a past that had receded cruelly, leaving it high and dry. New developments seemed so crude beside them that you felt it was almost kinder to put the centre out of its misery. But people have helped tackle the restoration of the centre, now infinitely clearer and pleasanter than Dublin’s.  

This type of thing is known as civic pride: and Brid points out that Limerick always had it, appointing itself an arts officer before any other city and being the fourth to open an arts centre with a theatre auditorium. So wipe that sneer off your urbane faces Brid would urge. “It was Paul Funge who earmarked the only possible building in Upper O’Connell Street, when he was Regional Arts Officer, and it was Paul who decided that Limerick’s biggest immediate need in the arts would be a medium sized venue to be open at least half the year and he pushed through the idea and financing”.

The latter question was taken care of by Shannonside Tourism, SFADCO, Limerick Council and the Regional Development Association, who coughed out £20,000 to replace tatty walls and peeling seats with low-key and elegant and practical fittings. The rent is £15 a week to the Confraternity, who live above the Belltable. And Brid is actually on the verge of getting the theatre to pay for itself….Brid has capacity houses for the first three months and aims to make the centre solvent and self supporting upon 30% houses with tickets from £1.50 to £3.00.

What do I want to do eventually here? Build, I suppose, a nucleus of actors and actresses to form our own company.” So far they have had the best of touring productions, starting with “Faith Healer” on 21 April for their opening night and running through the gamut if ITC and Druid productions. They intend to hold one act drama festivals in future” But on our non-subsidised budget, a company of our own is strictly in the future.”

Belltable’s  future is now once again secure in its proud new home and in a city that is as proud of its arts as it is of its other achievements.

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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Round up of the week’s news and events, 15 Oct 2010

Yet another busy week and here is a round-up of some goings on at home and abroad that came across the desk of Staged Reaction in the past week.

  • Two major exhibitions and archive events are taking place in Limerick. Photographs taken by Franz Sebastian Haselbeck, which went on display at the Museum Hunt include pictures of Home Rule meetings, farmers’ demonstrations and meetings of volunteers leading up to the War of Independence.
    In another ceremony in Limerick yesterday, the diaries and photographs of Cecil Mercier, a former manager at Ranks Mills for over 40 years were presented to the Limerick City Archives. Limerick City Archivist, Jacqui Hayes, said it was an important addition to the city archives because Ranks Mills had such an impact on the economic and social development of Limerick.  Read more:


  • Corn Exchange Theatre Company are receiving sell out performances for their production of Freefall. Nothing new there you might rightly say. Well, these performances are in Mexico! Corn Exchange are taking part in the celebration of 200 years since Mexico’s independence and have set up residence in the city of Guanajuato. Reports so far from Corn Exchange say they are the first Irish company to perform in Mexico for forty years. Here is a video promo for Freefall.


  • This Saturday 16th October at 4pm the artist Gerard Mannix Flynn will give a talk about his work and practice at Dialogue Art Space, 43A Vyner Street, London E2 9DQ. Flynn’s talk will focus on the politics and culture of the ‘performance of inclusion’, a cause which he has championed through his art, his theatre and his work as a councillor. Always engaging and always powerful, Flynn commands his audience’s attention.


  • The Abbey Theatre will tour to New York early next year when Frank McGuinness’s John Gabriel Borkman will be staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 12 Jan – 6 Feb 2011. McGuinness’s version of the cautionary tale by Henrik Ibsen is proving a huge success as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival and is proving a huge point of interest for eager audiences at the Brooklyn Academy.


  • Next week is Research Week at NUI Galway. Numerous events are taking place to mark this new event to promote new digital research resources and research and archive collection held by the NUIG James Hardiman Library and Archives. ARAN and RIAN are programmes that allow access to research at NUI Galway and a single portal for national research containing resources from the seven Irish universities and DIT. A series of talks and seminars are planned to help you maximise your research across all disciplines.


  • Irish Museum of modern Art (IMMA) will launch a new exhibition marking the contribution and works of Irish modernist artists and explore the development of modernity in Ireland through the visual arts in the period 1900 to 1975. Professor Luke Gibbons will hold a lecture to mark this event next Tuesday 19th October at IMMA, Peripheral Visions: Rethinking Irish Modernism, which explores the transformations of visual culture in relation to Irish modernism and the Revival.


  • A letter to The Irish Times this week highlighted the plight of the former residents of the Bethany Houses who suffered in these homes and suffered in their lives outside the homes. Exempt, like the Magdalene’s, from the 2002 Redress Board, a new resurgent call for all complete archives and records of these institutions and people be made available to scrutiny and research.


  • Finally, a national broadcaster has recently used a song as a backing track on a programme advertisement. The 1970 track, The Revolution will not be Televised by Gill Scott Heron is an aptly timed use of a powerful call to a people to stand up and be heard. An anthem certainly for our time and certainly worth a listen.

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New Begining for Limerick’s Belltable


A much needed cultural boost is nearing completion in Limerick. The Belltable arts centre based on the city’s O’Connell Street is currently nearing the end of its 880,000 euro redevelopment.  With capital funding from the Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture, the new departure in arts development in the mid-west is a timely boost to the region that has been dealt an overly severe hand in recent trading and social difficulties. 

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Kiely, along with Minister of State Peter Power and other public figures were yesterday among the privileged few to receive a personal tour of the new Belltable which is designed by the renowned John Keogan who also oversaw the redevelopment of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Cllr Kiely said: “Limerick City Council are fully behind this project and will provide all the necessary resources and we have assured the board of the Belltable of this”. The Belltable was first opened as a multi-disciplinary arts centre in 1981 and acted as one of the only arts venues to tour work outside of Ireland at this time. Having last received a refurbishment in 1991, the Belltable has continued to serve as a venue to develop and produce theatre, visual arts, dance, music and film but was restricted in recent years by capacity and technical issues. 

It is particularly important taken by the Board of Directors, investors and city council that the site for the Belltable was chosen to remain on O’Connell Street and not on a green-field site outside of the immediate city centre. A drain of resources, trade and general atmosphere from the city centre of late has typified a population that has suffered more than most at the hands of economic instability. The Belltable will take pride of place on the city’s main thorough fare and provide cultural permanence and a venue the city and its people can be proud of. 

The success in recent years of events such as River Fest, Limerick Theatre-Hub, sporting achievements and other cultural initiatives highlight the passion in Limerick and the mid-west to support positives in the locality and also a drive to pull the region forward. 

Peter McNamara, chief executive of the Belltable, said they expect the work to be completed by November 2010. For all involved and for the many who are looking forward to this development, it can’t come quick enough.


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