Saturday, June 11, 2011
Big Man Tait part 3
Sorry about the delay, so right where was I?
Tait. Yes. If y'don't know what I'm on about then go here, otherwise, read on!
Tait supplied thousands upon thousands of uniforms to the Confederate army, only eleven of which survive to this day; that's why a button made around the corner from me in Edward St ( like the one pictured above) is worth between 600/900 dollars.
He had by this stage moved his production from Bedford Row to Edward St.
Life being Life, I was just looking for a Limerick map [for an idea that I had for the poster design of 'Love, Peace & Robbery'] and I came across this rather natty bit of cartography featuring Limerick the year that they made Peter Tait the Mayor and even showing the location of his clothing factory, and you'll never guess who drew it:
Recognise that name? That's right, William E Corbett drew this map in 1865, and Willam E Corbett was also the architect who designed 'Tait's Clock'.
'Tait's Clock' is where my whole investigative journey began.
I've a friend who lives in an apartment over-looking it, and I was a little saddened to see that not only had the difficult and expensive repairs to the stonework been vandalised but some absolute tool had spray-painted it with the word 'Dork'.
That's what set me to thinking about the man and I think you'll agree, it's a helluva story.
In context,in 1846/7 while Francis Spaight, a ( Limerick merchant, farmer, British magistrate and ship owner), was shipping food out of Limerick under armed guard ( because we had a wee bit of a famine going on, and the poor,- despite being penniless, felt entitled to some of the food that the country was producing ) Peter Tait was a twenty-eight year old man trying to sell shirts from a basket on that same quayside.
Less than 20 years later, the same sacked apprentice/ street pedlar was not only the richest man in town but also Mayor, and such a popular mayor that they built a monument to his achievement.
Peter Tait may have only ended up in Limerick because he ran out of money on the way to America, but who could deny he lived the 'American' dream?
I suppose it's hard to even appreciate the unlikelihood of this one man's meteoric rise in such a battered, bereft and god-forsaken country as Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century. The circumstances of his origin could hardly have been humbler, to lose his 'live-in' job at the drapers must have been both devastating and terrifying; selling shirts from a basket was not something he did for only a short time either, he was already in his late 20's ( a middle-aged man for the time ) before he got to open his first small production centre in Bedford Row.
Yet here he was, less than 20 years later, the same street-pedlar, turned industrialist, turned millionaire, turned blockade-runner standing in Baker Place, and just about to be knighted as a magnificent clock ( made from stone quarried in garryowen ) was dedicated to him by the people of his adopted city.
That must have felt kinda cool.
Of course, it all went arse-ways mind you...
Posted by Darren Maher at 4:53 PM