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Tara West

Tara West Head Of Creative Development

Be Inspired Series

Fergus Cleary

Head of Design
Belleek Pottery Group

Fergus joined Belleek Pottery in 1978 after graduating from Belfast College of Art. Now as head of design, he manages a dynamic team of young designers working across the Pottery’s product ranges including the contemporary collection, Belleek Living.


Tell us about your day


Mr Cleary is an early riser and is woken daily by the household pet.

Our black and white cat Domino climbs up reaching our first floor bedroom window meowing until I sleepily open the curtains so she can see us, at which stage she settles again to doze on the windowsill. We live in hope that this will get later as the dark winter mornings set in!


Living in the beautiful rural countryside of Fermanagh, Fergus always strives to make the most of it.

I exercise every morning a three mile cycle round the village of Belleek which gives me enough time to get to work for 9am, and luckily it's only a short walk from my house to the Pottery.


Strategically planning each stage of the design process is crucial at Belleek Pottery and Fergus is engaged from conception to the production of each piece of handcrafted giftware or jewellery.

Every Monday morning the design, sales and production teams sit down along with managing director, John Maguire to review the progress of all new designs as they evolve through the various stages.

This meeting allows everyone to understand the issues involved, solve any problems which may arise and make decisions on the best way forward for each new item.


No two days are the same at Belleek given the wide variety of designs, projects and products being developed at any one time. 

Aside from the Monday morning team meeting, every other morning in design changes seasonally.

I am very lucky to work head up such an innovative and spirited design team so that work on projects can begin at least one year prior to their introduction into the marketplace.This allows time to fine-tune all aspects of the design, modelling and pre-production processes.

My responsibility is making sure that everything is in place for each new product, from giving each piece a product number to making sure it has a box.

The modern consumer can be very discerning and it is our priority to ensure all products meet various trade standards, including international standards, as we export to a variety of marketplaces abroad such as Canada and America.

Quite often we get special or unusual projects that certainly test our full ability, such as the five International Centrepieces which we produced to mark our 155th Anniversary.

The International Centrepiece is one of the largest and most elaborate pieces ever made by Belleek and it won a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. 

We gathered the 50 original different mould sections and assembled the moulds.

The production manager ensured all aspects of the casting and firing processes worked smoothly and was able to test fire and complete the International Centrepiece successfully. 

The next step was to remake all the original mould parts and to restore the pattern detail.

Finally, the intricate hand applied flowering element was recreated by the head flower maker to replicate the original Victorian style of the fine Parian flowers and leaves. 

It gave great satisfaction to all who worked on the project as the International Centrepiece was finally unveiled on August 27, 2012.

That was a major part of my working day for some time.

There is always variety and something new to work on in Belleek. The design team strive to make sure that we are consistently creating and recreating Belleek, while remaining true to the high quality design and production that the Pottery is renowned for.


My working day ends at 5.30pm. Recently over the summer months I have been spoiled with the home cooked meals made by my daughter Judith, but these are to come to an end as she soon leaves the nest for Swansea University to study economics. Dinner will then be made by my wife Isobel or I, depending on who gets home from work first hopefully it will be Isobel more often than myself as I’m not a great cook.


Living in the heart of County Fermanagh I try to walk every evening depending on the weather, but also enjoy gardening and spending time with Isobel and my children Alun and Judith, or catching up on the phone with our eldest son Gavin who lives in Edinburgh.


Bedtime is around 11.30pm depending on what is on the television. I often read, watch historical documentaries, a good detective or murder mystery film and like everyone I enjoy the odd comedy show!â€Â?


Part of the Independent News and Media group