Thursday, 13 April 2017

Dan Murphy & Mother MacCree: Wade Portadown Figurines

This is my Dan Murphy and Mother MacCree Wade ornaments, made in the 1980's and purchased directly from the shop at the Wade factory on Watson Street, Portadown. At the time they cost £350.
They are part of the Wade Irish Song Figures collection, and they were modelled by Belfast artist Raymond Piper.




Both figurines are marked "Irish Porcelain Figures" a shamrock and "Made in Ireland".
Earlier figurines also had "Himself" for Dan, and "Herself" for Mother, along with modelled by Raymond Piper stamped on them. 1990's figurines had "Seagoe Ceramics" stamped on them. Mine  do not have "Seagoe Ceramics" stamped on them, nor do they have Himself/herself modelled by Raymond Piper. I am not sure why mine do not have these stamps, if anyone knows I would appreciate knowing.







DAN MURPHY: Wade reference number C507


In 1961 Iris Carryer (nee Wade) commissioned Belfast artist Raymond Piper to model three figures for Wade in Portadown, the three figures were later to be known as Dan Murphy, Mother MacCree and Eileen Oge. 


"He based Dan Murphy on a real character he met in a Ballyaughlis pub near Belfast. His name was Harry McMullen, then aged about 70.  Harry was a legend in his own lifetime because he was reputed to be the greatest teller of tall stories in Ireland.  He was so adept at ‘spinning yarns’ that he was favourably compared to the celebrated Baron Munchausen whose incredible tales are known the world over.  Apparently, his expertise was so great and his eloquence so convincing that his listeners were never quite sure that he was not telling the truth.  In actual fact, when Piper’s figure was first marketed by Wade in 1962, he was called colloquially ‘Himself’.  A short time later ‘Himself’ became part of the Irish Song series and was re-christened, Dan Murphy."
Source Credit Dr John R. Wright, 2003





 Mother MacCree: Wade reference number C508
Also modelled by Raymond Piper.

" Mother MacCree’s origin was similarly fascinating.  This time Piper’s model  for the figure was an old lady he knew well, called Mary Kelly.  Mary lived rough for most of her days, though in later years she was a resident of a Catholic sanctuary for homeless women on the Falls Road in Belfast.  She was born in Armagh City, in the area known lyrically as ‘Dobbin’s Flowery Vale’, but spent most of her adult life travelling the countryside.  Mary was certainly a ‘larger than life’ character, if that is the proper phrase, considering she was about 4’- 6” tall.  When Piper visited her to make preparatory sketches for his clay model her first question to him was “Are you married?”  When he replied in the negative she said, “I’ll wait on you.”  At this time Mary was 87 years of age!  Piper’s figure was originally called ‘Herself’, though this was later changed to Mother MacCree."

Credit Dr John R. Wright: Source 








Given the rarity and the value of these beautiful figurines,  there is very little information on the net about them, I thought I would publish this short blog, to show my figurines, and pen the little information that I have about them. Gratitude and credit to John Wright for the information he put on the net about them.












I inherited the figurines from my Mother, she died in 2010, and they were gifted to her and my Father at some time in the mid to late 1980's. We think they were purchased in the Summer of 1988, but we are still not 100% sure. We had Canadian relatives visiting, and they stayed with my Mum and dad, they bought the ornaments as a thank you to Mum and Dad for keeping them and driving them about during their stay.
 They sat at either side of Mum's fireplace in a North facing room, so they never sat in direct sunlight. After I acquired them in 2010 I kept them securely boxed for about 3-4 years, then they were put in a glass cabinet, where they have been resident for a few years. I am about to start work in the room they were housed, so yet again they will be packaged, boxed and brought to a safe place until work is complete. They are so precious, that I only lightly dust them once a year. Before boxing them up, I thought I would take a few photographs.

If anyone has any more information about Mother and Dan, I would very much appreciate it if the information was left in the comments.

Further information about the history of Wade Portadown 1947-1990 LINK

Sandra Barr 



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