When we arrived back in Waterford, we took the Waterford Crystal Factory tour. This tour exceeded our expectations and we really enjoyed it!
I will tell you a little about what we learned, some from the tour and some I looked up after we got home to clarify.
Manufacture of the original style of Waterford Crystal began in 1783, and quickly gained renown among the world's finest glassware. All aspects of production require great care, from the fiery molding of the molten glass to the delicate cutting and polishing.
The tour included an explanation of all stages of production, from the mixing of sand, lead and potash to produce the glass, to blowing glass and incising the finished product with the famous Waterford patterns.
Here are some of the molds in the Mould Room.
George and William Penrose began the business back in 1783. Their product became world-renowned but their company closed in 1851.
In 1947, Czech immigrant Charles Bacik established a glassworks in the city, due to the superb reputation of the original glassware.
Until March 2009, Waterford Crystal Limited was a subsidiary of Waterford Wedgwood. Waterford Wedgwood was forced into receivership in early 2009. Under the receivership, Waterford Crystal was transferred to the new company WWRD Holdings Limited. The sale did not include the factory or visitor center in Ireland.
Most Waterford Crystal is now produced outside Ireland in countries such as Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany.
The crystal produced in this Waterford factory is sold in the gift shops here. We bought a small piece for Megan - she will have to wait to find out what it is!
Here is a man blowing the glass. They have to keep the hot glass moving or it collapses, so he is spinning it as he blows.
It is a five year training process to learn to make their crystal. We were told that after the five years they are then given three chances to make a perfect bowl. If they cannot complete that task in three tries, they can either quit or begin the five year training all over again.
Still spinning the hot glass - it must be kept moving until it cools.
Here are some glass pieces that are finished and ready for the marking and cutting process.
This man is smoothing the rough edges.
If you look closely at this picture you will see the marking pens. This machine marks the design for the cutters to follow.
Here is a cutter doing his fine, precise work. I was amazed that he had no eye protection or hand protection and his fingers were awfully close to a very fast, sharp blade!
Mike has a really good picture of a cutter which I will post if he sends it to me (hint, hint).
In 1966, Waterford's chandeliers were installed in Westminster Abbey for the 900th anniversary of the dedication of the abbey, after Christopher Hildyard, a minor canon of the abbey for 45 years, convinced the Guinness family to pay for them.
Here is a beautiful crystal grand piano.
I had to take a picture of the crystal American Flag!
This man is working on a baseball mitt for a sporting trophy they were commissioned to do. I cannot remember what competition it is intended for. The glove he is copying is in the box behind him.
Many sporting trophies are crafted by Waterford such as the Master Series crystal shield trophies that are awarded to the winner of each of the nine men's professional tennis Masters Series tournaments, the AFCA National Championship trophy that is awarded to the US college football team which finishes the season at the top of the Coaches Poll, and a representation of the Ashes urn that is presented to the winners of the Test cricket series between England and Australia. The trophy for the Masters snooker championship is also made by Waterford Crystal. (I guess I will have to find out what a snooker championship is! Anyone know?)
Also crafted by Waterford are the winning trophies for the French and German Grand Prix in Formula One, a bat and ball trophy presented at the final game at Yankee Stadium to Derek Jeter and a glass tennis racket for Boris Becker. They also design trophies for the People's Choice Awards. (This information came from Wikipedia)
I think Mike should win the nice golf trophy above!
It was an awesome tour - we really learned a lot!
We did not take the time to stop and eat anything in Kilkenny or Waterford so we went to the magnificent buffet onboard the OP when we returned and had a little pizza/fish and chips snack before eating dinner in the dining room.
That evening we enjoyed a very funny comedy night with Tom Briscoe.