The latest news from the House of Waterford Crystal....

Master Craftsman, Tom Power has been cutting crystal at Waterford Crystal for 49 years! He started as a young man on the 10th September 1969. Tom was a student in the local tech when a Waterford Crystal representative visited the school to inform the students that they were looking to recruit personnel for the factory. Tom attended for the ability test, which was held in the workshop at Waterford Crystal in Johnstown, a very daunting experience and Tom remembers it well.

The cutting department was where Tom served his apprenticeship. " I was of an artistic nature and loved the challenge of taking a blank piece of crystal and cutting the unique Waterford designs", says Tom. He trained for five years under the watchful eye of the master cutters and went on to become a master cutter himself after a further three years of  training. Tom has worked in three of the Waterford Crystal factories, Johnstown, Kilbarry and our current factory here on the Mall in Waterford City.

Tom has worked on hundreds of trophies and prestigious pieces over the years, including the Time Square ball, all the PGA Trophies, the Gibson Guitar, the MBA Basketball trophy and the People's Choice Awards. He does have a few favourite pieces that he has worked on including the Irish Harp, the American College Football, the MBA and the stunning Viking Longboat to name but a few. 

Tom has met many famous people over the years, John Hume, Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Nick Faldo and many more. But for Tom the stand out memories over the course of his career at Waterford are the lovely, funny, kind people he has met during factory tours at the House of Waterford and throughout his trips to the USA over the years.

He considers himself very lucky to have travelled to so many different states in America and to have worked in hundreds of different stores, meeting some really great people both staff and customers, who have given him a lifetime of great memories.

Tom travels all over the world to stores where he gets to meet our customers and personalise Waterford Crystal pieces for them, this is a job that Tom enjoys very much!

 

 

Waterford is set to welcome more than 4,390 cruise ship passengers from July 14th to July 17th. The Summer cruise ship call programme to Waterford will see over 24,000 international visitors arrive to our shores in 2018.

The July programme begins with the Seabourne Quest docking in Belview, carrying 450 passengers, on Saturday next, July 14th and concludes with the Amadea arriving to Dunmore East on July 19th with 600 on board. Waterford also welcomes the Crystal Celebrity on its third trip to Waterford in 2018 on July 17th with 2,850 passengers on board.

According to David McCoy, Chair of Visit Waterford: “It’s great to see Waterford is a key destination for international visitors travelling on leisure cruises. The city has always provided a warm welcome to visitors from all around the world. Visit Waterford, through Waterford Chamber will be issuing posters to retailers and businesses throughout the city to welcome passengers.

Cruise travel provides the city with a welcome addition in footfall. While we are very aware that not all passengers disembark on a port call, we have seen a marked increase in footfall. The port calls often generate repeat business, as visitors return on long stay vacations touring Waterford and its surrounding counties.”

The visitors on board are welcomed to Waterford by Lauren Traynor, Executive Project Director, Waterford Viking Triangle and Caroline Acheson, House of Waterford Crystal, will board the ships with City Guide Maps and brochures promoting the city and county attractions, shops and hospitality businesses. “Many visitors require information around practical services available in Waterford City such as pharmacies, hairdressers etc., while others wanted to know the best Irish Pub Experience to enjoy a pint of Guinness, an Irish Coffee or a gift from Ireland, setting off exploring the city on their own.

The positive impact on the city speaks for itself,” says McCoy. Visit Waterford is a representative body that will promote Waterford city and county to the domestic and international tourism markets and influence the long-term strategic development of Tourism in Waterford City and County. The aim of the group is that Waterford becomes the number one premium tourism destination in the South East and Ireland by marketing and promoting the city and county to the domestic and international markets.

 

 

It's no secret that Ireland has fallen head over heels in love with gin in recent times and what better way to enjoy the drink of the moment than in a glass from Waterford’s brand-new Gin Journeys collection.

Featuring six different crystal patterns, the collection is not only striking to look at and enjoyable to drink from, it is steeped in history with inspiration being drawn from County Waterford’s heritage in gin. Since the Victorian era, spices and botanicals have been transported along its roads and rivers to distilleries and the great houses throughout Ireland. Developed in collaboration with industry experts the collection has been specifically created to enrich the aromas and infuse the flavours of the botanicals within the spirit, so that gin connoisseurs can enjoy an enhanced drinking experience.

The collection features two new shapes from Waterford, designed for the ultimate enjoyment of the spirit: balloon glasses with a short stem which are perfect for gins with a 39% and above ABV, due to their bowl-like shape trapping the aromas inside the glass and allowing the spirit more room to breathe as well as space for garnishes and ice, and slim hi-balls which are ideal for lower alcohol gins and cocktails.

The crystalware itself has been designed using three Short Stories barware patterns, which also launched this year. These include Olann, which boasts a dramatic diamond design inspired by the classic diamond stitch on Olann knitwear originating from the Aran Islands; Cluin, which showcases a masculine square-cut design reminiscent of the bookshelves in Dublin’s 18th Century Gothic Marsh’s Library and Aras, which draws inspiration from the architecture of ancient castles found on the rolling hills of the Irish landscape, with its dramatic yet classic vertical-cut design pattern.

In addition to this, the collection includes three more timeless designs including Waterford’s signature Lismore design, which is renowned for its brilliance and clarity; Elegance, which is the epitome of exactly that - ideal for entertaining and transforming any event into a special occasion, with its sleek lines and sophisticated pattern; and Elegance Optic, a smooth, crystalline design that would be a welcome addition to any gin connoisseurs’ barware collection.

The Waterford Gin Journeys collection has something for everyone from dramatic designs to sleek, minimal pieces – offering a sophisticated way to enjoy and truly appreciate the flavour of the much-loved spirit.

See our full collection at https://goo.gl/RPu7sC

 

Yes - you will get more aromatics and flavour from your whiskey when you use whiskey-specific glassware like Short Stories or Lismore Connoisseur.

Why? Quality whiskey’s can only be fully and truly appreciated when experienced in the proper shaped glass wide enough for all types to breathe, perfect and allow for a pleasant and ‘neat’ swirling experience.

Using the correct glass is always a hallmark of good taste. When you pour your choice of liquor into a glass designed for whiskey, your senses are more alert to the flavour and scent. Suddenly, you’re aware of your whiskey’s aromatics – picking up its subtle notes.

This makes your whiskey tasting experience even better. Whiskey glasses from Waterford’s Short Stories series are a crowning achievement of crystal craftsmanship and the pinnacle of elite fine whiskey enjoyment.

Tumblers in these collections serves the whiskey connoisseur who enjoys their drink either neat, with a splash of water, a dash of soda or an ice cube or two.

 

The Waterford Blaa has arrived at the Crystal Cafe in the House of Waterford Crystal and can be enjoyed as part of your breakfast or lunch. The tradition of baking of the Waterford Blaa, is believed to date back to the arrival of the Huguenots. The Hugenots were members of the Reformed Church of France from the time of the Protestant Reformation.

At the time and throughout the medieval period Waterford was a powerful trading city, trading in flour, butter, leather, wheat and other agricultural produce from the area around Waterford were shipped to and from England and the continent mostly to Spain, France and Italy. In 1685, a large section of French Protestants were exiled to whatever countries gave them shelter, including England and Ireland. Waterford became a point of attraction to French refugees due to its ease of access; it placed them within convenient distance of their own shores, should circumstances make their return desirable; and it afforded a port of trade capable of developing their mercantile abilities.

According to the oral tradition of the period, the Huguenots introduced a bread product, which was made from leftover pieces of dough in the late seventeenth century. Waterford bakers believe this is when the Huguenots first introduced the famous Waterford Blaa. It is believed that the name either derives from blanc, the French for white, due to the flour on top of the blaa or the word "Blaad"  an old French word for flour.

Around 12,000 blaas are baked in Waterford each day, with the majority being sold by the end of lunch. In 2013, the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association succeeded in getting PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation for the Waterford Blaa. This means that only Blaas made by specialist bakers in Waterford city and county can be called Blaas!

 

Pat Whelan is a Master Blower at the House of Waterford Crystal. This craft involves great skill, dexterity and timing, providing dramatic theater as the glass shape -shifts. It takes 8 years training to master the craft of blowing.

Pat Whelan as young boy had a plan. "My plan at 14 years of age was to leave school, continue to train as a boxer like my Dad Billy, who was a professional boxer", explains Pat.  "And I wanted to get a job to save to go to the Woodstock Festival in Up-state New York in 1969".

Pat and his best friend got a job here in Waterford city in a local company called Snowcream, where they saved every penny they earned to purchase their tickets to see the greats like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Sanatana, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, perform at Woodstock. Alas this dream was not to be Pat and his pal had not taken in to account that they could not board an international flight as minors without an adult!

So instead of rocking out to his hero’s at Woodstock’69, Pat began his career at Waterford Glass on the 17th August 1969, that date is etched in his mind for many reasons. Pat started work in the Johnstown factory where he started in the blowing area, which was supposed to be a temporary position. The plan was that Pat would move in to the cutting shop after six months, however this transition never happened. Pat loved the blowing area and the craftsmen he worked with took him under their wing and trained him up to become a blower. Starting with gathering from the furnace, blowing the small ball to start the piece right up to gathering and blowing the full piece.

Pat loved the physicality of the job, Pat’s expertise is working on the large heavy pieces, he trained with artisan craftsmen from Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic along with the Irish Craftsmen. The heat in the factory is one of the outstanding memories Pat has of those first years in Johnstown, to combat the effects of the intense heat on the workers, the workers were issued with salt tablets to replenish the salts lost from their bodies during their shift.

In 1973 Pat along with some other Master Blowers, was recruited to go to the Waterford Crystal plant in  Dungarvan, in county Waterford  to train them in blowing the large pieces. Pat worked in the Kilbarry plant in K1 right up until it closed in 2009. Pat was delighted to return to what he does best when we reopened here on the Mall in Waterford in 2010.

Out of all the thousands of trophies and large bespoke pieces Pat has created,his  favourite was a piece that he blew for the actor Larry Hagman aka J.R. Ewing of Dallas. The piece was a crystal version of the of a Texan Stetson, a spectacular piece, a piece Pat is very proud to have been a part of. Pat has met many celebrities during his time at Waterford including Sir Cliff Richards who Pat remembers flying in by helicopter on a couple of occasions and Pat remembers well the excitement of the ladies upon Cliffs arrival at Waterford Crystal. But of all the celebrities that Pat has seen pass through Waterford Crystal the one standout or 'knockout' VIP visitor for Pat was the visit of Floyd Patterson, (Boxing World Heavy weight champion). Pat got to meet and chat to Floyd, due to Pat’s boxing heritage it was a very proud moment, he can recall without hesitation and with great fondness.

Pat is now in his 49th year as a blower, he is one of our longest serving Master blowers here at the House of Waterford Crystal. Pat can be seen here at the factory working on our beautiful production pieces but his real passion is for the bigger pieces like our trophies and one-off bespoke pieces. Who knows what would of happened if he had been able to attend that Woodstock Festival all those years ago, it would have been a very different summer of ’69 for Pat, and Waterford Crystal would have missed out on an amazingly talented craftsman who is very passionate about his craft.

 
 

John Keane is our Master Mould Maker at the House of Waterford Crystal. Waterford Crystal is one of the few companies today, which still practises the ancient craft of mould making. Very little has changed in this craft over the centuries. Wooden moulds and hand tools are used by our Master Blowers to shape the molten crystal.

"I have worked with Waterford Crystal for 46 years", says John. "As a young boy of 14 years I was encouraged by my teacher to join Waterford Glass. I am  a native of Dungarvan in county Waterford had never even visited Waterford city until the first day I started work in Waterford Glass back in 1972!" 

John is our only craftsman on site who has worked in all of the 5 different production sites, Johnstown, Kilbarry, Dungarvan, Butlerstown and here at the House of Waterford Crystal.

During his 46 years with Waterford,  John has crafted hundreds of wooden moulds that are used to create our spectacular trophies and one-off bespoke pieces. The wooden moulds and hand tools are made from beech and pear wood and are a smooth wood, which has a high tolerance to heat. Even so, due to the searing heat of the crystal these moulds have a relatively short life span of approximately 7-10 days.

The wood is turned on the lathe as John creates the shape of the piece within the solid block of wood.

"Out of all of the moulds that I have created,  my  favourite has to be a piece commissioned by the New York Yankees for one of their players Mariano Rivera, it was a New York fireman’s helmet" says John.

This piece could not be turned on the lathe so John handcrafted this mould using a chisel and hammer, the mould took two weeks to complete.

                 

Waterford’s multi award-winning Greenway celebrates its first birthday On Sunday March 25th with a ‘Birthday Bumps’ drive which aims to encourage as many people as possible to get out, get active and enjoy using the 46km off-road cycling and walking trail.

The ‘You’d never know who you might bump into on the Waterford Greenway’ campaign targets locals and visitors to the area and encourages everyone to grab their bikes or skates, their runners or hiking boots and enjoy the Waterford Greenway as it celebrates its 1st birthday on Sunday, March 25.

Among the many big names to have visited the Greenway over the past year since it was opened by Minister Simon Coveney are sporting legends Paul O’Connell, Sonia O’Sullivan, Sam Bennett, Derek McGrath and Niamh Briggs as well as actress, Carrie Crowley, celebrity chef, Paul Flynn, model and foodie, Roz Purcell and former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. 

Sunday marks the Greenway’s first birthday and is set to be a family-focused celebration, with costumed characters buzzing about and available for ‘selfies’ at strategic locations between 2 and 5pm. Several local businesses are organising promotions to tie in with the 1st Birthday theme. It’s been a phenomenal start for the Waterford Greenway as it scooped the ‘Grand Prix Award’ and ‘Best Tourism Initiative’ prizes at the All Ireland Community and Council Awards earlier this year. Data released in mid-December showed that close to 250,000 people used the Waterford Greenway in its first 10 months. Michael Walsh, Chief Executive with Waterford City and County Council, said it’s been a phenomenal first year for all.

“The Waterford Greenway has had an incredible economic, social and cultural impact on all the communities which straddle the 46km-long route. It has captured the local and national imagination and has been a huge magnet for visitors to this region. “The challenge ahead now will be to build on this success and encourage those visiting to stay longer and explore more of Viking Waterford while they’re here.

The coastal towns and villages, the communities of the Comeragh Mountains and the Copper Coast, the great houses and gardens of the Blackwater and so many other amazing tourist offerings in and around Waterford city and county all stand to benefit. Working together, we will ensure that the Waterford Greenway lifts all boats,” Mr Walsh vowed. Figures released in early December show that since it opened in March 2017, 247,545 have enjoyed using the Waterford Greenway. Of these, 105,639 were on foot and 141,906 have cycled it. Well over 9 out of 10 (94%) of visitors to the Waterford Greenway www.visitwaterfordgreenway.com rated it as either excellent or good. The Waterford Greenway is Ireland’s longest greenway and the spectacular, 46km off-road cycling and walking trail stretches from the Viking City of Waterford to the picturesque coastal town of Dungarvan.

 

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