Signed Melai. 1953
This 'Ireland Invites You' travel poster was issued by Fógra Fáilte, the organisation that handled the publicity for Bord Fáilte Éireann (the Irish Tourist Board).
The empty strapline allowed different company logos and slogans to be inserted. It was printed in Dublin by Browne and Nolan Ltd and the Aran Islands scene was reminiscent of a famous John Hinde postcard.
It depicts a man in Aran costume (sweater, pampooties, cap) in the foreground and he is weaving the crios, the traditional wool belt made by weaving using the foot. There are two men carrying a currach towards the sea in the background.
The poster was the artwork of Guus Melai who had worked for the publicity department of KLM and was one of many Dutch artists who were recruited to come to Ireland.
Several of these Dutch designers designed posters for Aer Lingus, Fógra Fáilte and CIÉ in the 1950s - Guus Melai, Willem van Velsen and Piet Sluis being the most prominent. Other Dutch designers employed were Jan de Fouw, Bert van Embden and Gerrit van Gelderen. Although Melai stayed only a few years here, others settled and purchased homes at a reasonable price when there was a great housing shortage in the Netherlands.
It is of interest that at the time, and indeed throughout the period of travel poster production, the creation of these images of a distinctive and symbolic Ireland, were often by non-Irish artists. However, the images by the Belfast man, Paul Henry were among the most popular and enduring.
From the mid-1960s poster art in tourism went into a decline. There was a move away from the commissioning of artists and instead towards the use of colour photographs. Television advertising began to dominate the industry, and all of this sounded the end of the high-quality pictorial poster.
This poster is one of the National Museum of Ireland’s collection of travel and tourism posters and featured in the 2007 exhibition Come Back to Erin: Irish Travel Posters of the 20th Century at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life. The exhibition was curated by the late Dr Séamas Mac Philib and his research was published in a Museum booklet of the same name and features in the description here.