Home/The Irish Pub Emporium/The Irish Pub Decor Emporium
  • Extremely unusual & culturally significant historical sign from a once famous pub in Castlebar Co Mayo, the historic and now sadly closed down Humbert Inn.Please email us directly to enquire about this most unusual item at irishpubemporium@gmail.com. "Located on the Main Street of Castlebar, The Humbert Inn  excelled in its hospitality to the public for over 200 years. Its name was derived from the fact that the French General Jean Humbert with his second in command General Sarrazin located their headquarters within the building during the United Irishmen rebellion of 1798. Originally until 1912 due to rates purposes, the premises also consisted of what is known today as Paddy Fahey’s shop and over the years has been used as hotel, restaurant and public house. In 1798 the site of Paddy Fahey’s and the Humbert Inn was known as Geevy’s Hotel. A banquet was held there after the 1798 Rising and it was in The Humbert Inn premises, that John Moore was declared first President of Connaught! The public bar was unique in appearance with its interior rough cut stone walls, arches, Liscannor stone floor and a façade that has changed little over the past fifty years.

    The premises has changed hands many times over the years, more recent owners including Tom Coucil, the Moran family and since 1994 John Connaughton, more popularly known as 'John Humbert'. While memories aplenty abound about The Humbert Inn with many instances of people today stating that they are the third generation of their family to call into The Humbert.  Its lasting legacy will be an outstanding and legendary venue for all that is musical. The Humbert Inn was long associated with encouraging local musicians and providing the public with a steady stream of talent. Everything from traditional sessions to Industrial Rock has been catered for, everything from one guitar, 6 piece bands to many DJs have enthralled weekly audiences! In many cases their audience trying for a pint, while singing and dancing at the same time. Always a multi-talented bunch, The Humbert regulars! The most historically famous of these bands will be 'General Humbert' consisting of Steve Dunford (bodhran, bones), John Donegan (mandolin, harmonium), Ruairi Somers (uileann pipes, tin whistles, bagpipes), Shay Kavanagh (guitar, bouzouki) and one Miss Mary Black (vocals, bodhran) from approx 1972 until 1982. Mary Black’s brother Mick was working with the then P&T in Castlebar, he along with his brother Shay informed a group of Humbert musicians including, John Hoban and Frank O’Reilly, that he 'had a sister that could sing a bit (brotherly understatement) and would they be interested if she sang with them'. Mary Black may have received her first taste of success with 'General Humbert' in the ‘70s and recorded her first album in 1982. But, along with playing venues in Dublin, she started out singing in Castlebar with traditional group 'La Salle' which included John Dunford and Fintan Murphy within The Humbert a good ten years before her international success. Christmas in particular was always memorable in The Humbert, it was a major home coming venue and meeting place. If you were brought up in Castlebar, were of a certain age, then chances were there was one of two places you would have been found on Christmas Eve, The Humbert or Rays!. The Humbert Inn can also boast its very own VIP list among its regulars with two crowned Roses of Tralee Mindy O’Sullivan and Aoibhinn Ni Shulleabhain along with Fair City actress Vicky Burke. Plus any number of quality customers, musicians, fine sportsmen and women, business people and the odd politician. Fate had decided a different path for The Humbert and further to this an offer to buy the premises by a local developer was accepted. This has resulted in the developer’s decision to convert the building into retail outlets and apartments, thereby no longer retaining the premises two hundred year reign in the hospitality trade.Public opinion has stated a desire to at least retain the look of the existing bar, possibly using same as a restaurant, wine bar, part of the Linenhall for exhibitions or even as a Tourist Office However, the general consensus is an overall request that The Humbert Inn remains a public bar while recognising the logic in upper floor apartment conversion. The future of The Humbert has been proposed by the developer, but it is the present planning section of the Town Council who will ultimately decide this historic buildings fate as rumours abound of its possible demolition! What ever the future holds for The Humbert Inn, its last weekend under the command of General John Connaughton will be a musical filled celebration which John has requested to end quietly on its last closing time on Sunday 3rd September. Which is curiously the same date that Humbert and his men left The Humbert Inn premises in 1798! It will be an emotional time for both punters, staff and owner, an end of an era no matter what the future holds, so it is important that it is understood that the bar will be closing promptly on the last night" Origins : Co Mayo Dimensions : 88cm x60.5cm  5kg
  • Ennis Co Clare   50cm x 60cm De Valera was a near demagogue type politician who dominated Irish Political life from 1917 to 1973,whether as Prime Minister or President or as leader of the Opposition.Known as the Long Fella,Irish people either loved or hated him-there was simply no ambivalent feelings about this most polarising of politicians.This fine portrait of De Valera catches him perfectly and would make a superb addition to any Irish Pub ,both at home or abroad with a Fianna Fail or Republican bias or anyone from Clare,a county where he was always at his most popular. Eamon de Valera, first registered as George de Valero; changed some time before 1901 to Edward de Valera;14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. His political career spanned over half a century, from 1917 to 1973; he served several terms as head of government and head of state. He also led the introduction of the Constitution of Ireland. Prior to de Valera's political career, he was a Commandant at Boland's Mill during the 1916 Easter Rising, an Irish revolution that would eventually contribute to Irish independence. He was arrested, sentenced to death but released for a variety of reasons, including the public response to the British execution of Rising leaders. He returned to Ireland after being jailed in England and became one of the leading political figures of the War of Independence. After the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, de Valera served as the political leader of Anti-Treaty Sinn Fein until 1926, when he, along with many supporters, left the party to set up Fianna Fáil, a new political party which abandoned the policy of abstentionism from Dáil Éireann. From there, de Valera would go on to be at the forefront of Irish politics until the turn of the 1960s. He took over as President of the Executive Councilfrom W. T. Cosgrave and later Taoiseach, with the passing of Bunreacht Na hEireann (Irish constitution) in 1937. He would serve as Taoiseach on 3 occasions; from 1937 to 1948, from 1951 to 1954 and finally from 1957 to 1959. He remains the longest serving Taoiseach by total days served in the post. He resigned in 1959 upon his election as President of Ireland. By then, he had been Leader of Fianna Fáil for 33 years, and he, along with older founding members, began to take a less prominent role relative to newer ministers such as Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney. He would serve as President from 1959 to 1973, two full terms in office. De Valera's political beliefs evolved from militant Irish republicanism to strong social, cultural and economic conservatism.He has been characterised by a stern, unbending, devious demeanor. His roles in the Civil War have also portrayed him as a divisive figure in Irish history. Biographer Tim Pat Coogan sees his time in power as being characterised by economic and cultural stagnation, while Diarmaid Ferriter argues that the stereotype of de Valera as an austere, cold and even backward figure was largely manufactured in the 1960s and is misguided.
  • 32cm x 24cm.   Limerick Nice little advertising Phurnacite mirror . For well over sixty years, Phurnacite has retained its position as the country's first choice of smokeless fuel for roomheaters, boilers and cookers. This long time favourite is manufactured from anthracite to produce a hard compact briquette with an outstanding heat output and efficiency ideal for modern solid fuel central heating systems. Phurnacite burns slowly and consistently and can be banked to slumber throughout the day and overnight.
  • Nice Carling Black Label Mirror 50cm x 42cm  Sneem Co Kerry Even though Carling originated in Canada,it’s popularity spread widely throughout the Commonwealth including Ireland .A famous advertising campaign “I bet he drinks Carling” contributed hugely to the brands market share . Carling Black Label is a Canadian brand of lagerdistributed by Carling Brewing Company. In several countries, it is also known as Carling Black Label, and in Sweden, it is known as Carling Premier. In the United Kingdom it is now known as just Carling.


    Although its original focus was on ale, Carling has been brewing lager-style beers since the 1870s. In 1927, as part of an overall corporate re-branding effort under new president J. Innes Carling, the company renamed its already popular Black & White Lager to Black Label. Three years later, Carling was purchased by Toronto business tycoon E. P. Taylor, who merged the company into his Canadian Breweries Limited (CBL), which grew to be the world's largest brewing company, at least for a time. Under Taylor, Black Label was promoted as CBL's flagship brand and went on to become the world's first beer to be brewed on a mass international scale,becoming particularly popular in Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


    In response to a shift in popular taste away from ale, Carling added a three-storey lager plant to their main London, Ontario, brewery in 1877. Carling's Lager (later renamed Carling's Bavarian Stock Lager, and then Carling's Imperial Club Lager) was the company's first lager brand. Carling's Black & White Lager was introduced in the 1920s and later renamed Black Label Lager, in contrast to their recently launched Red Cap Ale. Due to its strength and price, the brand quickly became popular with the country's working class, perhaps most famously among the loggers and miners of Northern Ontario, where the brand gained a tough, blue-collar image. Around 1990, Black Label had an advertising campaign in Canada, which used the phrase "The Legend is Black."

    United States

    Brewing Corporation of America of Cleveland, Ohio in 1965. Home of Carling Black Label lager and Carling Red Cap Ale and former site the Peerless Motor Car Company
    After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the Peerless Motor Car Company, looking for a way to diversify in the poor car market of the depression, purchased the American rights to Carling's formulas, identifying labels, and trademarks. Technicians and brewmasters were sent from Canada to convert a Peerless plant in Cleveland, Ohio, into the Brewing Corporation of America. They first tried just brewing Carling's Red Cap Ale, but sales were too slow to maintain the brewery, and sales didn't climb until the introduction of Black Label lager. The philosophy behind Black Label was to have a high quality lager that was available nationwide but with a locally brewed budget price. The strategy worked, and the next several decades led to rapid growth and expansion for the brewery and the Carling Black Label brand. When Carling stopped producing Black Label to focus on a more profitable lager, they found their sales plummeting. Carling re-introduced Black Label with a beautiful blonde named Mabel, portrayed by Jeanne Goodspeed, with the slogan "Hey Mabel, Black Label!". The twenty-year marketing campaign cemented the name in the popular culture of America. In 1979, after several years of intense pressure from the larger American Brewers Miller and Anheuser-Busch, Carling-National was bought out by the Heileman Brewing Co. of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Carling and the Black Label brand are currently owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company. Though no longer widely distributed in the U.S., Black Label remains the official beer of Beer Frisbee.

    United Kingdom

    Black Label was introduced to the United Kingdom in 1952. Originally, it was only available in bottles, but in 1965, The Hill Top in Sheffield became the first pub to pour Carling Black Label draughts.
    A pint of Carling in a pub in Kettering, England
    Carling Black Label sign on a club in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
    In the 1970s and 80s, Carling Black Label sales were driven to great heights, due partly to increased advertising support, in particular the classic "I bet he drinks" series of advertisements, and partly with the launch of Carling Black Label in cans. Cans were important to Carling's success as they helped open up the "take home" market.[3] The "I bet he drinks" series of ads showed someone doing something cool, clever or difficult, and having a bystander say "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label". With the help of this advertising campaign, it became Britain's best-selling brand of beer in 1971. In the 1980s, many of the adverts featured comedians Mark Arden and Stephen Frost, also known as The Oblivion Boys, delivering the classic punchline. One of the advertisements in the series, Dambusters from 1989, was a parody of the 1955 film of the same name, and was ranked at number 12 on ITV's list of the "Best Ever Ads" in 2005, and at number 17 on Channel 4's list of the "100 Greatest TV Ads" in 2000.Campaign Live also ranked it at number 5 in their list of the "Top 10 Funniest TV Ads of All Time" in 2008. Carling has remained Britain's best selling beer since 1985. 'Black Label' has been dropped from the brand name and logo in Britain since 1997.

    South Africa

    In South Africa, Black Label began to take on a different tone with the anti-apartheid movement. This was partly due to the fact that, at 5.5%, it had more alcohol than the other brands of beer that generally had 5.0%, as noted in the popular advertising catch phrase "only hard working students deserve an extra 0.5 percent."
    SABMiller variants of Black Label
    Furthermore, the connotation of black to the racial issue became a point of pride to the native Africans. It used to be sold with the motto, "America's Lusty, Lively Beer", perhaps in reference to Canada, though it is seldom seen in the United States. The motto came from an older advertising campaign in the United States. Another famous Afrikaans slogan for Black Label in South Africa is, "Black Label sê die bybel", which means "The Bible says (one should drink) Black Label."  
  • A very attractive mirror depicting the famous Tullamore Dew Irish Wolfhounds and the slogan “Give every man his Dew”. 55cm x 40cm.   Tullamore Co Offaly Tullamore D.E.W. is a brand of Irish whiskey produced by William Grant & Sons. It is the second largest selling brand of Irish whiskey globally, with sales of over 950,000 cases per annum as of 2015.The whiskey was originally produced in the Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland, at the old Tullamore Distillery which was established in 1829. Its name is derived from the initials of Daniel E. Williams (D.E.W.), a general manager and later owner of the original distillery. In 1954, the original distillery closed down, and with stocks of whiskey running low, the brand was sold to John Powers & Son, another Irish distiller in the 1960s, with production transferred to the Midleton Distillery, County Cork in the 1970s following a merger of three major Irish distillers.In 2010, the brand was purchased by William Grant & Sons, who constructed a new distillery on the outskirts of Tullamore. The new distillery opened in 2014, bringing production of the whiskey back to the town after a break of sixty years.  
  • Lovely Irish Mist Pub Mirror-the Worlds Most Luxurious Liqueur Pub Mirror . Edenderry Co Offaly.   60cm x 50cm Irish Mist is a brown Whiskey Liqueur produced in Dublin, Ireland, by the Irish Mist Liqueur Company Ltd. In September 2010 it was announced that the brand was being bought by Gruppo Campari from William Grant, only a few months after Grants had bought it from the C&C Group. It is made from aged Irish whiskey, heather and clover honey, aromatic herbs, and other spirits, blended to an ancient recipe claimed to be 1,000 years old.Though it was once 80 US proof (40% alcohol per volume), Irish Mist is now 35% or 70 US proof. The bottle shape has also been changed from a “decanter” style to a more traditional whiskey bottle shape. It is currently available in more than 40 countries.

    Irish Mist was the first liqueur to be produced in Ireland when commercial production began in 1947 at Tullamore, County Offaly. Tullamore is the hometown of the Williams family who were the original owners of Irish Mist. The company history goes back to 1829 when the Tullamore Distillery was founded to produce Irish whiskey. In the mid-1940s Desmond E. Williams began the search for an alternative yet related product, eventually deciding to produce a liqueur based on the ancient beverage known as heather wine.In 1985 the Cantrell & Cochrane Group purchased the Irish Mist Liqueur Company from the Williams family. In the summer of 2010 Irish Mist and the entire spirit division of C&C was bought by William Grant of Scotland. In September 2010 they in turn sold Irish Mist to Gruppo Campari.Irish Mist is typically served straight up or on ice, but also goes with coffee, vodka, or cranberry juice. Per the makers, Irish Mist’s most popular recipe is Irish Mist with Cola and Lime. A Rusty Mist is an ounce of Irish Mist with an ounce of Drambuie Scotch whisky liqueur.A Black Nail is made from equal parts Irish Mist and Irish whiskey.  
  • Classic oval shaped heavy type Paddy Old Irish Whiskey Mirror with wooden support backing. 56cm x  42cm.  Youghal Co Cork
    Paddy Whiskey logo.png
    Paddy Whiskey.jpg
    Introduced 1879, renamed as Paddy in 1912
    Paddy is a brand of blended Irish whiskey produced by Irish Distillers, at the Midleton distillery in County Cork, on behalf of Sazerac, a privately held American company. Irish distillers owned the brand until its sale to Sazerac in 2016. As of 2016, Paddy is the fourth largest selling Irish whiskey in the WorldHistory The Cork Distilleries Company was founded in 1867 to merge four existing distilleries in Cork city (the North Mall, the Green, Watercourse Road, and Daly's) under the control of one group.A fifth distillery, the Midleton distillery, joined the group soon after in 1868. In 1882, the company hired a young Corkman called Paddy Flaherty as a salesman. Flaherty travelled the pubs of Cork marketing the company's unwieldy named "Cork Distilleries Company Old Irish Whiskey".His sales techniques (which including free rounds of drinks for customers) were so good, that when publicans ran low on stock they would write the distillery to reorder cases of "Paddy Flaherty's whiskey". In 1912, with his name having become synonymous with the whiskey, the distillery officially renamed the whiskey Paddy Irish Whiskey in his honour. In 1920s and 1930s in Ireland, whiskey was sold in casks from the distillery to wholesalers, who would in turn sell it on to publicans.To prevent fluctuations in quality due to middlemen diluting their casks, Cork Distilleries Company decided to bottle their own whiskey known as Paddy, becoming one of the first to do so. In 1988, following an unsolicited takeover offer by Grand Metropolitan, Irish Distillers approached Pernod Ricard and subsequently became a subsidiary of the French drinks conglomerate, following a friendly takeover bid. In 2016, Pernod Ricard sold the Paddy brand to Sazerac, a privately held American firm for an undisclosed fee. Pernod Ricard stated that the sale was in order "simplify" their portfolio, and allow for more targeted investment in their other Irish whiskey brands, such as Jameson and Powers. At the time of the sale, Paddy was the fourth largest selling Irish whiskey brand in the world, with sales of 200,000 9-litre cases per annum, across 28 countries worldwide. Paddy whiskey is distilled three times and matured in oak casks for up to seven years.Compared with other Irish whiskeys, Paddy has a comparatively low pot still content and a high malt content in its blend. Jim Murray, author of the Whiskey bible, has rated Paddy as "one of the softest of all Ireland's whiskeys".
  • Humorous sketch of the enigmatic genius Brendan Began with typical irreverent quote attached. 37.5cm x 25.5cm Dublin BRENDAN BEHAN 1923-1964 PLAYWRIGHT AND AUTHOR Behan was born in Dublin on 9 February 1923. His father was a house painter who had been imprisoned as a republican towards the end of the Civil War, and from an early age Behan was steeped in Irish history and patriotic ballads; however, there was also a strong literary and cultural atmosphere in his home. At fourteen Behan was apprenticed to his father's trade. He was already a member of Fianna Éireann, the youth organisation of the Irish Republican Army, and a contributor to The United Irishman. When the IRA launched a bombing campaign in England in 1939, Behan was trained in explosives, but was arrested the day he landed in Liverpool. In February 1940 he was sentenced to three years' Borstal detention. He spent two years in a Borstal in Suffolk, making good use of its excellent library. In 1942, back in Dublin, Behan fired at a detective during an IRA parade and was sentenced to fourteen years' penal servitude. Again he broadened his education, becoming a fluent Irish speaker. During his first months in Mountjoy prison, Sean O Faolain published Behan's description of his Borstal experiences in The Bell. Behan was released in 1946 as part of a general amnesty and returned to painting. He would serve other prison terms, either for republican activity or as a result of his drinking, but none of such length. For some years Behan concentrated on writing verse in Irish. He lived in Paris for a time before returning in 1950 to Dublin, where he cultivated his reputation as one of the more rambunctious figures in the city's literary circles. In 1954 Behan's play The Quare Fellow was well received in the tiny Pike Theatre. However, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Royal in Stratford, East London, that brought Behan a wider reputation - significantly assisted by a drunken interview on BBC television. Thereafter, Behan was never free from media attention, and he in turn was usually ready to play the drunken Irlshman. The 'quare fellow', never seen on stage, is a condemned man in prison. His imminent execution touches the lives of the other prisoners, the warders and the hangman, and the play is in part a protest against capital punishment. More important, though, its blend of tragedy and comedy underlines the survival of the prisoners' humanity in their inhumane environment. How much the broader London version owed to Joan Littlewood is a matter of debate. Comparing him with another alcoholic writer, Dylan Thomas, a friend said that 'Dylan wrote Under Milkwood and Brendan wrote under Littlewood'. Behan's second play, An Giall (1958), was commissioned by Gael Linn, the Irish-language organisation. Behan translated the play into English and it was Joan Littlewood's production of The Hostage (1958) which led to success in London and New York. As before Behan's tragi-comedy deals with a closed world, in this case a Dublin brothel where the IRA imprison an English soldier, but Littlewood diluted the naturalism of the Irish version with interludes of music-hall singing and dancing. Behan's autobiographical Borstal Boy also appeared in 1958, and its early chapters on prison life are among his best work. By then, however, he was a victim of his own celebrity, and alcoholism and diabetes were taking their toll. His English publishers suggested that, instead of the writing he now found difficult, he dictate to a tape recorder. The first outcome was Brendan Behan's Island (1962), a readable collection of anecdotes and opinions in which it was apparent that Behan had moved away from the republican extremism of his youth. Tape-recording also produced Brendan Behan's New York(1964) and Confessions of an Irish Rebel (1965), a disappointing sequel to Borstal Boy. A collection of newspaper columns from the l950s, published as Hold Your Hour and Have Another (1963), merely underlined the inferiority of his later work. When Behan died in Dublin on 20 March 1964, an IRA guard of honour escorted his coffin. One newspaper described it as the biggest funeral since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell.
  • Absolutely wonderful piece of yesteryear tobacco advertising here -when tobacco companies were probably the heaviest spenders on printed advertising and jockeys were sporting superstars with horse racing among the most popular sports in Ireland and Britain 62cm x 46cm     Lurgan Co Armagh W.D. & H.O. Wills was a British tobacco importer and manufacturer formed in Bristol, England. It was the first UK company to mass-produce cigarettes. It was one of the founding companies of Imperial Tobacco along with John Player & Sons. The company was founded in 1786 and went by various names before 1830 when it became W.D. & H.O. Wills. Tobacco was processed and sold under several brand names, some of which were still used by Imperial Tobacco until the second half of the 20th century. The company pioneered the use of cigarette cards within their packaging. Many of the buildings in Bristol and other cities around the United Kingdom still exist with several being converted to residential use.

    Henry Overton Wills I arrived in Bristol in 1786 from Salisbury, and opened a tobacco shop on Castle Street with his partner Samuel Watkins. They named their firm Wills, Watkins & Co. When Watkins retired in 1789, the firm became Wills & Co. Next, the company was known from 1791 to 1793 as Lilly, Wills & Co, when it merged with the firm of Peter Lilly, who owned a snuff mill on the Land Yeo at Barrow Gurney. The company then was known from 1793 up until Lilly's' retirement in 1803 as Lilly and Wills. In 1826 H.O. Wills's sons William Day Wills and Henry Overton Wills II took over the company, which in 1830 became W.D. & H.O. Wills. William Day Wills' middle name is from his mother Anne Day of Bristol. Both W.D. and H.O. Wills were non-smokers. When William Day Wills was killed in 1865 in a carriage accident, 2000 people attended his funeral at Arnos Vale Cemetery.
    The Wills Building in Newcastle upon Tyne, a former W.D. & H.O. Wills factory
    During the 1860s a new factory was built to replace the original Redcliffe Street premises, but they quickly outgrew this. The East Street factory of W.D. & H.O. Wills in Bedminster opened in 1886 with a high tea for the 900 employees in the Cigar Room. The new factory was expected to meet their needs for the remainder of the century, but within a decade it was doubled in size and early in the 1900s a further Bristol factory was created in Raleigh Road, Southville. This growth was largely due to the success of cigarettes. Their first brand was "Bristol", made at the London factory from 1871 to 1974. Three Castles and Gold Flake followed in 1878 but the greatest success was the machine-made Woodbine ten years later. Embassy was introduced in 1914 and relaunched in 1962 with coupons. Other popular brands included Capstan and Passing Clouds. The company also made cigar brands like Castella and Whiffs, several pipe tobacco brands and Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco. Up until 1920 only women and girls were employed as cigar-makers. One clause in the women's contract stipulated:
    The former W.D. & H.O. warehouse building in Perth, Western Australia
    In 1898 Henry Herbert Wills visited Australia which led to the establishment of W.D. & H.O. Wills (Australia) Ltd. in 1900.When Princess Elizabeth visited on 3 March 1950 she was given cigarette cards as a gift for Prince Charles. In 1901 thirteen British tobacco companies discussed the American Tobacco Company building a factory in the UK to bypass taxes. The Imperial Tobacco Company was incorporated on 10 December 1901 with seven of the directors being members of the Wills family. Imperial remains one of the world's largest tobacco companies.
    A Woodbine vending machine, now in the Staffordshire County Museumat Shugborough Hall, England
    The last member of the Wills family to serve the company was Christopher, the great great grandson of H.O. Wills I. He retired as sales research manager in 1969. The company had factories and offices not only in Bristol, but also in Swindon, Dublin, Newcastle and Glasgow. The largest cigarette factory in Europe was opened at Hartcliffe Bristol, and was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1974, but closed in 1990. It proved impossible to find a new use for it and it was demolished in 1999; its site is now the Imperial Park retail complex, but the associated offices became Lakeshore, residential apartments created by Urban Splash. The facade of the large factory in Bedminster and bonded warehouses at Cumberland Basin remain prominent buildings in Bristol, although much of the existing land and buildings have been converted to other uses, such as The Tobacco Factory Theatre. The Newcastle factory closed in 1986 and stood derelict for over a decade, before the front of the Art Deco building – which was preserved by being Grade II listed – reopened as a block of luxury apartments in 1998. (See main article: Wills Building) The factory in Glasgow has similarly been converted into offices. In 1988 Imperial Tobacco withdrew the Wills brand in the United Kingdom (except for the popular Woodbine and Capstan Full Strength brands, which still carry the name).

    The company pioneered canteens for the workers, free medical care, sports facilities and paid holidays. Wills commissioned portraits of long-serving employees, several of which are held by Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and some of which can be seen on display at the M Shed museum. In 1893 the W.D. & H.O. Wills Ltd Association Football Team was established and the company also held singing classes for the younger workers and women that year.In 1899 wives of Wills employees serving in the Boer War were granted 10 shillings per week by the factory.

    Bristol Archives holds extensive records of W.D. & H.O. Wills and Imperial Tobacco . In addition there are photographs of the Newcastle factory of W.D. & H.O. Wills at Tyne and Wear Archives in Bristol holds the Wills Collection of Tobacco Antiquities, consisting of advertising, marketing and packaging samples from the company's history, photographs and artefacts relating to the history of tobacco. In 1959 the company launched the short-lived Strand brand. This was accompanied by the iconic, but commercially disastrous, You're never alone with a Strand television advertisement. In India, the Gold Flake, Classic and Wills Navy Cut range of cigarettes, manufactured by ITC , formerly the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited,still has W.D. & H.O. Wills printed on the cigarettes and their packaging. These lines of cigarettes have a dominant market share.

    In 1887, Wills were one of the first UK tobacco companies to include advertising cards in their packs of cigarettes, but it was not until 1895 that they produced their first general interest set of cards ('Ships and Sailors'). Other Wills sets include 'Aviation' (1910), 'Lucky Charms' (1923), 'British Butterflies' (1927), 'Famous Golfers' (1930), 'Garden Flowers' (1933) and 'Air Raid Precautions' (1938) Wills also released several sports sets, such as the cricket (1901, 1908, 1909, 1910), association football (1902, 1935, 1939), rugby union (1902, 1929) and Australian rules football (1905) series.

  • Attractive print of horses gathering at the start of a race at Clonmel,Co Tipperary(artist-Stephen Park) 30cm x 35cm.    Killenaule Co Tipperary  
  • Enniscrone Co Sligo   45.5cm x 68.5cm Famous print of painting by Richard Moynan titled "Military Manoeuvres" which now resides in the National Gallery in Dublin.

    The Dublin-born painter Richard Moynan was 24 years old at the commencement of his artistic training. He was educated with a view to entering the medical profession and proceeded so far on the course to need only his final examination to qualify, but his artistic instincts proved to be too strong to be resisted, and he abandoned the profession of medicine for that of art, and made it his life long study. (The Irish Times, 11 April 1906, p. 5.) Moynan entered the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (DMSA) in January 1880, having initially studied there on a part-time basis. Due to an Act of Parliament passed in 1877 the school came under the control of the Department of Science and Art of South Kensington, which aligned it with the British art education system. The headmaster, Robert Edwin Lyne, was a product of this education as he had received his instruction in the (British) National Training School prior to taking up his appointment in Dublin in 1863.  In the DMSA, Moynan gained the requisite qualifications in 'Freehand, Geometry, Perspective and Object Drawing, 2nd grade' (Thoms, 1891, p. 833), which allowed him entry to the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools in 1882. The following July he was awarded the 'Albert Scholarship for the best picture shown in the Academy by a student' (Strickland, Vol II, 1913, p. 144). This enabled the artist to continue his studies in Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, moving on to Paris in 1885, where he honed his skills in portraiture at Académie Julian. Moynan returned to his native Dublin in December 1886 to establish a practice as a portrait painter, but he also pursued his craft in terms of genre scenes, history painting and literary subjects. The painting, Military Manoeuvres (1891), marks a watershed in the artist's development. It demonstrates his art-making process and provides an insight into his political beliefs.


    Military Manoeuvres was exhibited when Moynan was at the height of his powers. In July of the previous year he was elected to full membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy, which earned him the honour of being one of 30 constituent members of the most important professional Irish artistic institution. This radically changed the painter's studio practice. It allowed him to modify both the size and pricing structure of his paintings, as he was no longer obliged to submit his work for selection to the RHA jury. Therefore, from 1891 onward Moynan tended to focus on one expensively-priced, large-scale painting per year, as well as smaller auxiliary pieces to help sustain his income. The asking price of Military Manoeuvres was £210, an amount that far exceeded the price requested by his fellow exhibitors. However, it appears that the practice of RHA members seeking inflated prices for their work was not unknown: It has often been observed by the public, though seldom ventured into print, that the resident artists of capacity demand exorbitant prices for their work and the fact is advanced as a reason why so few pictures are sold.  (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 5). Military Manoeuvres illustrates a crowded street-scene depicting a group of children amusing themselves by pretending to be a regimental band. The title of the work is humorous and although Moynan shows the children's ragged dress, he focuses mainly on the boys’ ability to have fun. Their toys include saucepan lids as cymbals, an upturned bucket serving as a drum, a biscuit tin, a coffee pot, a paper trumpet, a penny whistle and a wooden sword. Their leader carries a broom and wears a splendid brass helmet, which contrasts with his general apparel. This helmet was obviously purloined nefariously from some source. This attracts the attention of a passing soldier who happens to recognize the elaborate headgear as being a black-plumed band helmet from his own regiment, the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards. The trooper makes eye contact with the bandleader and steps threateningly towards him. The soldier’s lady-friend encourages him to see the funny side of the incident, while passers-by stop and stare. The success of this piece lies primarily in two areas, the skill of the artist in challenging the viewer to interpret the story, and the excellent execution of the figure work. There are 15 children in the band, all individual in facial type and dress. Moynan’s sketchbooks in the National Gallery of Ireland demonstrate his commitment to grouping and regrouping his subjects as he explored different dynamics in an effort to achieve the most effective composition. He was an acute observer of human nature and although this picture contains over 30 figures, the scene appears to be naturalistic and spacious. The viewer’s eye-movement is guided by the interaction between the young 'drum-major' and the soldier, and is, in turn, reinforced by the anxious glances of the flower seller in the foreground. This finely-painted genre scene reflects the artist's academic training. The detailed execution of the figures demonstrates the influence of the painter's RHA professor, Augustus Burke, while also showing a connection with French art practice as the cloudy sky exhibits a dull, even light made popular by the plein air painter Bastien Lepage. The scale of the work is significant as it measures 148 x 240 cm, a size that was considered to be more suitable for a history subject rather than a genre piece. The expansive scale was not without precedent, as two years earlier Aloysius O'Kelly exhibited The Station, Saying Mass in a Connemara Cabin in the R.H.A. exhibition. This work, measuring 152.5 x 178 cm is slightly smaller than Military Manoeuvres. O’Kelly’s quintessential Irish subject reflects the importance of Catholicism among the peasant population. Moynan was a keen observer of O'Kelly's work. He adapted the central motif for his award-winning painting The Last of the 24th at Isandula from an O'Kelly newspaper print entitled The State of Ireland, Affray at Belmullet, Co. Mayo, published in 1881 in The London Illustrated News. Moynan's Unionist politics differed radically from O'Kelly's Nationalism but, nevertheless, the size and the subject matter of The Station, Saying Mass in a Connemara Cabin must have struck a chord, as, two years after its appearance in the R.H.A exhibition, Moynan painted a large street scene which explored another important aspect of Irish life, the effect of the military in the every-day lives of the people. Moynan's sketchbooks in the National Gallery of Ireland provide an insight into the artist's working methods and contribute to our knowledge of the process involved in the construction of his paintings. This invaluable collection of 9 sketchbooks was donated by Gordon Lambert in memory of his friend, the artist's daughter, Eileen Nora (known as Biddy). One of the chief characteristics of the artist's work is mise en scene, or the ability to present a composition with dramatic force, as if the characters were actors arranged under the proscenium arch. This was not simply a serendipitous occurrence, as the artist's sketchbooks reveal no less than 8 studies for Military Manoeuvres.  These illustrate the painter's careful assembly of material, taking infinite pains in constructing a suitable streetscape, while also exploring several alternative arrangements of the figures within the composition. This approach demonstrates the methodology employed by a classically-trained artist, who painstakingly built up a picture by addressing compositional issues and architectural detail along with exploring different methods of conveying the narrative. Most of the artist’s NGI sketchbooks are pocket-sized containing pencil slots suggesting their primary function was to capture ideas and poses. An analysis of the material relating specifically to Military Manoeuvres suggests that their chief thrust is generic, rather than specific. The artist employed the sketchbooks as a kind of manual camera, to record ideas as opposed to developing studies for specific figures. There are over 30 individuals depicted in Military Manoeuvres, each of whom is a distinct character. Moynan must have sketched and painted studies for all of these people, yet this type of detail is not present in the sketchbooks. Instead, they contain studies dealing mostly with compositional matters.
    Military Maneuvers drawing.bmp
    The artist's notebooks in the National Gallery provide two alternative compositions for Military Manoeuvres. Sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 Verso shows a group of children marching in time to the beat of their instruments and sketchbook  no. 19.175, Folio 9 recto, is essentially the same group of children, but, in this version, their leader holds a sword in his hand. It is interesting to note that the artist finally selected a passive, more psychological composition as opposed to the simpler, more action-packed version depicted in sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 verso. This dynamic sketch exudes motion as the band members march forward four-abreast, the tilt of their bodies and the movement of their feet suggesting rhythm and pace as they advance energetically towards the viewer. The theme of motion is reinforced by the presence of a soldier and his lady-friend, as they walk in step with the children's band. This rhythm is also expressed by Moynan's quick, slashing pencil-strokes as he loosely establishes the figures in the foreground, the soldier and the lady. Standing on the right of the composition, conducting the action is the young drum major. Once again he is wearing the elaborate brass, regimental helmet of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, with its horsehair plume. His body is arched in counter-rhythm to the marching band and, at first glance, he appears to be halting the action. He waves both hands in the air; his left hand directing the music, while the tightly-gripped staff in his right hand confers almost regal authority. The attention of all members of the band is focused on his directions. The soldier looks directly ahead, while his companion curiously gesticulates towards the drum major. This composition differs enormously from the final painted version of Military Manoeuvres. It tells a much less complex story of the children's ability to find amusement by pretending to be an army band. Their enjoyment is infectious, as the soldier and his companion march along to the beat of the music. The children concentrate on their own pursuits and do not notice that their game has the added benefit of also entertaining the adults. There is no air of mystery about this piece. All parties in the picture are in harmony. The children do not tease the soldier, and there is no sign of the concerned-looking flower girl. In this version, the soldier is proud of his occupation and this sense of pride is endorsed by the children's games. The humour in the piece lies in the fact that, for a brief moment, it appears as if the trooper is an honorary member of the children's band, who has temporarily fallen under the command of the bandleader. There is a freshness and sense of immediacy about this sketch that begs the question, was this perhaps an actual event that Moynan witnessed? The soldier has been identified as wearing the walking-out dress of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, a regiment based in Newbridge between the late 1880s and 1893 under the command of General Sir Edward Cooper Hodge, K.B.E. Could the trooper have been visiting his home in Leixlip when he saw his young brother parading about the streets wearing his regimental band helmet? Moynan frequently worked in the Lucan/Leixilp area during the period when the Dragoon Guards were situated in Newbridge. The popularity of the spa at Lucan made it much favoured by 'visitors and invalids' (Thoms, 1891 p. 1310) as it was accessible by steam tramway which ran from Conyngham Road. The artist was a member of the Dublin Sketching Club who ventured on a field trip to the village of Lucan in the spring of 1889. His 1892 painting entitled, Old Mill - Leixlip, also suggests familiarity with the Leixlip area. Moynan's knowledge of Aloysius O'Kelly's Mass in a Connemara Cabin may have prompted him to consider the possibility of producing a large genre piece, reflecting Unionist rather than Nationalist values. The sketch he made in Leixlip village provided an excellent opportunity to explore the importance of the military within an Irish rural environment. But the artist was dissatisfied with such a simplistic arrangement as found in sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 Verso, as he wished to challenge the viewer to interpret the scene. In the final version of Military Manoeuvres, the children's band is far more intent on baiting the soldier than pursuing their games. The inclusion of the flower girl enables the artist to construct a moment of tension as she observes the expression of the soldier and awaits the interaction between the trooper and the bandleader. Moynan rejected the forward march of the musical band in favour of a more diffuse arrangement, as the triangular relationship between the flower girl, the Drum-Major and the soldier prompts inquiry into the reactions of the various groups within the canvas. Indeed, the painted version of Military Manoeuvres could in fact be the sequel to the sketchbook version. This shows the artist's ability to develop, not just the compositional elements within the painting, but to modify the idea behind the narrative to produce a more engaging story line. Opinion has long been divided on the setting for Military Manoeuvres. At first glance, the streetscape mirrors that of Main Street in the village of Leixlip, Co. Kildare but certain details do not support this theory. Dr. Brian P. Kennedy's careful comparison with the near-contemporary Lawrence photograph establishes broad parallels between the photographic and the painted version, but it is difficult to reconcile certain details. This is precisely because of Moynan's approach to formulating a composition was creative rather than topographical. He had no difficulty in relocating solid architectural features in an effort to gain balance and symmetry. Kennedy remarks that the church spire is the result of 'artistic license' (Kennedy, 1993, p. 28). This is true on two counts. The church of St. Mary's is situated on the left side of the road as one proceeds up Main Street, Leixlip, in the direction of Pound Street. Furthermore, St. Mary's does not have a conventional spire but terminates in a castellated Norman-style tower. Reference to the artist’s sketchbooks reveals that the spire featured in Military Manoeuvres was 'borrowed' from the church of St. Andrew in the nearby village of Lucan. This distinctive architectural gem obviously attracted the artist, as he sketched it from no less than three different angles. Therefore, Moynan sacrificed architectural accuracy in his quest for a perfectly balanced composition. It is also possible that the presence of the spire in Military Manoeuvres had another, more personal significance for the artist, as a spire, or an obelisk, is emblematic of the craft of Freemasonry. By including the spire in Military Manoeuvres the artist may have been acknowledging the importance of ‘the craft’ and paying tribute to his fellow Masons. He had been a member of the Dublin Lodge of St. Cecilia (No. 250), since January 1887. He had special links with the Masonic Orphan Schools as its headmaster, J. Holbrook, was a fellow member of the Lodge of St. Cecilia. In 1888 the Masonic Boys School moved premises from Adelaide Hall in Merrion to Richview in Clonskeagh, to allow an increase in the student body. The artist's involvement with this charity was held in such high regard that his fellow lodge members held a special dinner in his honour. Pictorial comparisons between the school’s sports day activities, such as the tug-of-war featured in the Masonic magazine, and a 1891 painting of the same title by the artist suggest that Moynan may have sourced many of the young models for his genre scenes, including Military Manoeuvres, from the Masonic Boys School. Military Manoeuvres marks a turning point in the artist's oeuvre as it demonstrates a move away from his usual studio-based painting and shows a tendency to work out of doors. This street scene was one of six paintings exhibited by the artist in the 1891 RHA exhibition, and three other titles, Tug-of-War, ‘Wady-Buckety’, and View on the Dodder, (near Templeogue) also suggest outdoor scenes. This trend to work en plein air was a practice developed by the artist over the next ten years. It led to a group of distinctly ‘Irish Impressionist’ style paintings and canvases such as Killiney Sands painted in 1894 (currently in the Allied Irish Bank Collection), demonstrate this trend as it expresses Impressionist influences in terms of subject matter, application of paint and use of colour. Moynan was a passionate Unionist who used his art as a platform for his political beliefs. He was the chief illustrator with the leading Unionist newspaper of the day, The Union. He painted a number of highly political works, such as Home Again (1883). But the main thrust of the narrative in Military Manoeuvres is observational and humourist rather than political. Yet the artist does not shy away from showing the children's shabby surroundings. He frankly portrays the neglected state of the roads. This was probably a popular topic of discussion within the Moynan family circle as his brother, John Ouseley Bonsell Moynan, was the principal engineer for county Tipperary where he introduced an innovative system of road building and maintenance. Contrasting reviews of the 1891 RHA exhibition provide an insight into contemporary attitudes to Irish art. The critic writing for The Freeman's Journal initially addressed controversial issues such as the high prices of the exhibits and then proceeded to embark on a major diatribe regarding the lack of support for the exhibition by the government, the aristocracy and the so-called patrons of the RHA. He questioned the quality of some of the work: 'Allusion has been made to the fact that many very inferior productions are allowed a place on the walls of the exhibition' (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 7) and even condemned a painting by the President of the RHA, Sir Thomas Alfred Jones (Jones was an associate of Moynan's in the Masonic Lodge): 'The President's picture Paddy's Proposal is anything but a success. Subjects of this kind are quite outside his range. He should stick to portrait painting' (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 7). Yet, consistently through out three reviews the same critic extols Moynan's virtues: There is one fact undoubted that will be gratifying to the members of the Academy and the public - namely, that in one or two special instances the younger members unquestionably have shown a desire and a capacity to prove worthy of their name. Mr. Moynan's large picture has already been spoken of as an example of this. (The Freeman's Journal, 5 March 1891, p. 5) He also mentioned Military Manoeuvres in an earlier review: There is a lot of exceedingly good work in this picture. The subject is good and it has been treated with great humour and skill and with genuine artistic instinct. (The Freeman's Journal, 2 March 1891, p. 5) The reviewer in The Irish Times was also fulsome in his praise of both the artist and the painting in question: Mr. Moynan is another artist who has this year come to the front. His big picture Military Manoeuvres (No. 26) at once challenges attention on account of its size and the novelty of its caption, and the abundant labour that has been expended upon its detail. For an Irish artist the work is a most ambitious one, and we cordially recognise the success of the artist. The group of boys passing through the village streets playing at soldiers equipped in mock panoply is full of life and movement, and the introduction of a real red coat is a happy stroke. (The Irish Times, 2 March 1891, p. 3) But it is equally important to note that Moynan's reaction to the critics was bi-directional. It appears that Military Manoeuvres in its original format had a dog in the centre of the composition and in response to a newspaper notice the painter altered the composition. The instigator of the change was the reviewer form The Freeman's Journal: '... the picture (Military Manoeuvres) is really interesting and very clever of its kind. There is a very eccentric looking dog in the centre of the picture - very eccentric' (The Freeman's Journal, 2 March 1891, p. 5). Yet, on publication of the Second RHA Notice, just three days later, the artist has taken this criticism on board and reacted by removing the dog from the composition: 'and bye-the-bye, he has quite rightly painted out that very eccentric dog alluded to in our last notice' (The Freeman's Journal, 5 March 1891, p. 6). This shows the artist's willingness to accept informed criticism and to act accordingly. But despite all the praise heaped on Military Manoeuvres, this work, like many other paintings exhibited in the 1890s Dublin market, remained unsold at the close of the exhibition. Two years later it was shown in America: Military Manoeuvres, exhibited at the RHA, at the Chicago exhibition and at the San Francisco exhibition. In the following year it was purchased in the latter place for a large sum.  (The Irish Times, 11 April 1906, p.5.) Military Manoeuvres is the product of the confluence of the artist's academic training and experience. This mid-term painting offers an insight into various elements, which helped forge Moynan’s professional identity and provides a glimpse of some of the educational, social and political issues that affected the art-making practice of his day.
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