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

It’s a story with a curious beginning, carried forward by a mix of inspiration and logic to an entirely fitting conclusion.

Legend has it that in 1947 when Mr. Bill Dolfin was the Personnel Manager of Waterford, he decided that the company needed a distinctive label for its crystal. Discussions turned to the Waterford City Coat of Arms, which has two supports, a sea creature and a lion, and it was suggested the sea creature could be modified into an image to suit the label. After all, this heraldic creature symbolises Waterford’s maritime connections – in the Middle Ages Waterford was Ireland's largest port – and it was the potential for exporting that had attracted the founders of Waterford Crystal here in the first place.

There was some uncertainty as to exactly what kind of sea creature the heraldic creation was, but Bill Dolfin quickly declared it to be a dolphin. It was no secret, that, as he shared a similar sounding name to the said sea creature, he believed his association with Waterford Crystal would live on in posterity! While it was generally agreed that the sea creature bore little similarity to a dolphin, it was felt it did vaguely resemble a seahorse.

Mr. Havel, Waterford’s Chief Designer from the early 1940's, then proffered two very convincing reasons as to why the seahorse would be appropriate for the Waterford symbol. Firstly, that the curved shape of the seahorse would lend itself far more artistically to the type of label he had in mind to design. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, was the fact that the seahorse was a truly original and unique sea creature, given that the male seahorse was the carrier during reproduction, unlike any other sea life.

 

Because Waterford Crystal was also considered unique in its beauty, it was agreed that the designing of the original symbol would be based on the concept of a "Sea Creature" similar to a seahorse. The symbol was further developed over the years and in 1986, it was decided that, although now well known, the symbol needed refinement to conform to the more stringent design concept of the times. So, it was decided to define the seahorse shape that is seen today.

A curious tale, but one that highlights how creative processes can come to a final, elegant conclusion.

John Drohan always knew he would spend his life working with his hands, his father was a talented well renowned carpenter, who instilled great values in his family,. He always told them “All great craftsmen, have pride in what they do”. This resonated with young John and is something he has aspired to all his working life. John was born and raised in Dunhill in county Waterford and resides there to this day. He spent a lot of time in his youth accompanying his father as he worked, it gave John a great appreciation for fine craftsmanship. Johns eldest brother went on to follow in his father’s footsteps. In 1970’s Ireland trades were the way to go for many young men. John left Dunhill National School and travelled to the local technical school in Waterford City. A representative from Waterford Glass factory visited the technical school back in 1970, the boys were invited to apply for positions in the factory. John went to the Johnstown factory, where he successfully completed a cutting test and started working in the Kilbarry plant in June 1970.

 

Thirteen apprentice cutters to each bench, in the cutting shop, John was mentored by Jimmy Cusack, John says “You meet a few people in this life that have a profound effect on your life and Jimmy Cusack was one such person, an amazing mentor”, Jimmy taught John all the basic skills to become a craftsman. John qualified as a Rheintour (Flat) Cutter after five years of an apprenticeship and a further three years before he became a Master Cutter. John says the day he qualified as a flat cutter is one of the highlights of his time in Waterford Crystal.

The test piece for the flat cutters was a Royal Tara Decanter or a (606 as the craftsmen would say), the entire piece is a series of flat cuts, each cut, cut twice, first cut on a rough diamond wheel and then refined on a smooth diamond wheel individual 50 individual cuts and eight wheel changes. Johns name and the date was placed on his exam piece and presented to him on qualification, a piece that has pride of place in his home. John recalls with great sadness the day Waterford crystal closed in 2009 this sadness was replaced with great happiness when the factory reopened here on the Mall in 2010, he says “I felt honoured and privileged to become part of the revival of Waterford Crystal, it felt great to be back doing what I do best hand cutting crystal”.

 

John has always taken pride in his work, something his father instilled in him, capability and intent have brought him through the rest of his journey in Waterford Crystal. Some of the favourite pieces John has worked on down through the years are the spectacular trophies, the Irish Budweiser Derby, the Honda Classic, Shell Houston, the Pebble Beach and the Solheim Cup. John worked on these trophies and gets a great sense of achievement knowing that the trophies he works on here in the factory are treasured by people from the worlds of sport and entertainment.

In the countdown to the Millennium, Waterford Crystal launched the most successful champagne flutes to date, starting in 1995 a different themed pair of flutes was launched each year, bows for happiness, hearts for love, stars for health, wheat sheaf’s for prosperity and doves for peace. Each champagne flute stem was cut by the flat cutters, using the rough and smooth diamond wheels.

These flutes were limited edition pieces, the moulds were destroyed when they were completed. John remembers the excitement this collection created in the factory, he loved the tag line they were marketed with “Buy now or wait another 1,000 years!!” John like a lot of the workers, decided to purchase the full collection. Having this collection means a lot to John” The flutes are a permanent reminder of the pleasure of being involved in something that caused a real stir all over the world when they were launched, and to have been a part of the team that created these flutes was something very special”.

John also has a real fondness for the Royal Tara collection as this collection is entirely cut on the flat wheels, the flat cut would traditionally be seen as a complimentary cut to the more prominent wedge cut, so the Royal Tara breaks the rules a little with this beautiful series of flat cuts each incision done twice using rough and smooth wheels. This very precise work appeals to John’s passion for perfection in his work. John says he loves, “Making a very ordinary cut transform into an extraordinary piece”.

Even in planning his retirement John is measured and precise, on the 23rd of June this year, exactly 49 years to the day John started working in Waterford glass he will cut his final piece of crystal here in the House of Waterford Crystal. John has met and chatted to thousands of visitors to the factory the two that stand out for John were Mary Robinson (Former Irish President) and John Hume (Irish former politician from Derry, Northern Ireland who was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, with David Trimble).

On reflection on spending 49 years cutting crystal and meeting people from all walks of life, John says” I have loved it all, the time has just gone by so quickly, I will be sad to leave but I have had the privilege to work among great colleagues and made lifelong friends along the way, these were the people that really made a difference on my journey”.

World Gin Day is a global celebration of all things gin, on the second Saturday in June.

Gin’s popularity is continuing to grow, and what better way to enjoy the drink of the moment than in a glass from Waterford’s 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.

The crystalware itself has been designed using three Short Stories barware patterns. 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, crystal 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.

As part of its annual Mastercraft Collection, Copper Coast is a collection of rare and outstanding pieces representing the House of Waterford’s most prestigious offering. The elite Master Craftsmen spend years learning their craft with hands-on experience of every intricate aspect of the crystal making process transforming the finest raw materials into crystal works of art. 

The inspiration for Copper Coast comes from the rugged Irish coastline that stretches between Tramore and Dungarvan where the copper mining industry thrived in the 19th Century. This beautiful scenic area is a haunting reminder of the past which has now reverted to nature and the pattern reflects the calmness and serenity of the view. The five pieces tie together design elements inspired by the horizon, the movement of the ocean, the minerals from the rocky rugged shore and the man-made Coppermine Tower. Stunningly crafted using skills perfected over decades, the Copper Coast collection also reflects the Irish tradition for bringing people together making everyday moments special with outstanding crystal design.

 

Copper Coast Hurricane

The magic, atmospheric quality of candlelight is beautifully enhanced by this stunning Copper Coast Hurricane with its elegant footed design and gently fluted edges. Expertly crafted in pure crystal with meticulous attention to detail, the wide band of tight refracting Karo cuts represent the ocean, and the deep cut rings the horizon along the rugged Irish coastline that stretches between Tramore and Dungarvan. Echoing Ireland’s rich mining history and showcasing the time-honoured skills of Waterford’s Master Craftsmen, this truly striking centrepiece is beautifully presented in a Waterford signature grey gift box bringing style to the home and the gentle flicker of candlelight to a memorable entertaining occasion.

Tall Slim 16” Copper Coast Vase

Bringing elegance and sophistication to the home, the tall slim 16” Copper Coast Vase has a gently fluted design perfect for a striking floral display. Inspired by the rugged beauty of the Irish coastline between Tramore and Dungarvan and the imposing Coppermine Tower, the vase is beautifully created in crystal by Waterford’s Master Craftsmen. The wide central band of tight refracting Karo cuts represent the movement of the ocean, the deep cut rings the horizon and the olive cuts at the base the minerals extracted from the rocks by the ancient miners. Embodying the expertise and outstanding quality that have made Waterford world famous for incredible quality, the vase is presented in a signature grey gift box providing a memorable gift giving opportunity. 

12” Copper Coast Flared Bowl

The stunning design of the 12” Copper Coast flared bowl creates a striking centrepiece perfect as a serving piece for a gathering of family or friends in the spirit of warm Irish hospitality. Making everyday moments special is part of the essence of Waterford and its rich heritage is also reflected in this design inspired by the rugged, scenic coastline between Tramore and Dungarvan. Showcasing the skills of the Master Craftsmen, the tight Karo cuts in a wide band represent the movement of the ocean, the deep cut rings, the horizon and the olive cuts at the base the minerals extracted from the rocks by the ancient copper miners. The beautiful serenity of this stylish piece makes it a bowl to be treasured, elegantly presented in a signature grey gift box

13” Copper Coast Vase

The tall elliptical shape of this elegant 13” Copper Coast Vase is inspired by the beautiful rugged Irish coastline that stretches between Tramore and Dungarvan and the imposing Coppermine Tower, a reminder of the area’s rich mining heritage. The Master Craftsmen of Waterford have incorporated these elements into a stunning, meticulously crafted design with tight Karo cuts representing the movement of the ocean, the deep cut rings echoing the horizon and the olive cuts at the base the minerals extracted from the rocks. This striking vase is ready to be filled with an elegant floral display at the heart of a gathering of family or friends in the Irish tradition of warm hospitality and shared memorable moments. Presented in a signature grey gift box this is a truly special piece.

12” Copper Coast Bowl

The classic shape of this beautiful 12” Copper Coast Bowl forms a generous serving piece to share warm Irish hospitality with family and friends. Intricately created by the skilled Master Craftsmen at the House of Waterford, the sparkling crystal design is inspired by the scenic rugged coastline stretching between Tramore and Dungarvan and its rich mining heritage. Different elements blend stylishly into the pattern, the tight refracting Karo cuts symbolise the movement of the ocean, the deep cut circles and clear band above are inspired by the horizon and the olive cuts at the base by the minerals extracted from the rocks. Authentic design, outstanding craftsmanship and the breath-taking Irish landscape combine in this stunning piece stylishly presented in a signature grey box making a gift to truly treasure.

Martin Barron Master Engraver

Martin was born in Waterford City, his parents both from Waterford moved to Drogheda, when Martin was three months old, Martins Dad worked for a company in Waterford that relocated to Drogheda. It was in Drogheda that Martin completed his education. At the age of 19 years Martin made his way from Drogheda to Waterford, his uncle Tom Flynn who worked in Waterford Crystal recommended that Martin apply to work in the factory and in 1973 Martin started working in Waterford Glass. “It was difficult leaving my family in Drogheda at that young age” says Martin, but his parents encouraged him to move to Waterford, they knew the great reputation the company had and felt it would be a great opportunity for him. Martin moved in with his grandparents and even though Waterford was not home it was very familiar to him having spent many holidays here with his family.

Martin started work in the cutting department, his memory of his first day was seeing row upon row of cutters at work, cutting in to crystal pieces, quiet a daunting experience!! The training for a cutter back in 1973 involved attending the on-site apprentice school, where you were set tasks to test your ability, this training in the apprentice school lasted a couple of months, the apprentices then got experience on the cutting benches under the watchful eye of the bench master. This training enhanced the skills of the apprentices, gaining lots of experience under the various bench masters. Martin was assigned to one bench master to complete his 5 years training; the apprentice bowl was the test piece for the cutters and Martin successfully graduated from his 5 year apprenticeship to become a craftsman. Martin then completed a further 3 years training before he became a Master Cutter. Having spent almost 19 years in the cutting department in 1992 the opportunity arose internally to train as an engraver, Martin had a keen interest in sketching and drawing all his life and had originally wanted to work in the engraving area, so when the opportunity arose he applied for the position and was successful. The skillset required for engraving is completely different to the skillset required for a cutter, this career change required Martin to retrain to use under wheel rather than the over wheel that is used in cutting. To become a Master Engraver a full 8 years training was required, Martin completed this and graduated as a Master Engraver.

Over the years Martin has engraved many of our very prestigious pieces, he has worked on the Pebble Beach golf trophy, ATP World Tennis Players championship, motor racing, and entertainment awards to name but a few. When Martin was asked to name his favourite piece or pieces, he said “I have no favourite piece, I give the same level of dedication to detail on each and every piece I work on”, the words of a true craftsman. In 2002 Martin had the opportunity to visit Shanghai China, for the ATT world tennis finals where he was to engrave the winners name onto the spectacular Waterford Crystal trophy. At this event Martin met Lleyton Hewitt who was ranked Mo 1 tennis player in the world at that time. Martin felt honoured to engrave Lleyton’s name on to this spectacular trophy. A few years later Martin got to meet Roger Federer at the same tournament but this time it was held in Houston Texas U.S.A. Meeting both of these world class athletes at these prestigious sporting events, are stand out memories for Martin.

The four seasons bowl is a beautiful piece that Martin designed and engraved, a piece he can be very proud of. On the bowl you can see he has used a mixture of all three types of engraving, sandblasting, buzzer and Intaglio engraving, Martin’s inspiration for this piece comes from his love of nature the flora and fauna of the Irish countryside and his fondness for the differing seasons. On the bowl you can see Martin’s beautiful interpretation of each season. This stunning piece has been much admired and sought after over the years by our visitors, some will ask for subtle changes to the piece, in order to personalize the piece for themselves, be it engraving the name of a first-born grandchild in the appropriate season, or newly-weds having their names engraved in the season they wed, along with many other requests, Martin will always happily oblige. Some of our visitors have likened the engraving on the bowl to the cycle of life, Spring/Birth, Summer /Youth, Autumn/Maturity and Winter old age. The four seasons bowl has proven to be a very popular piece with our customers. Martin worked in the Kilbarry plant the Dungarvan plant, and here on the Mall in the House of Waterford Crystal.

During 46 years at Waterford Martin feels very fortunate to have worked with so many talented craftsmen, he is very happy with the decision his 19 year old self made to return to his native county and join the workforce of Waterford Crystal. He has enjoyed his career with Waterford, he thoroughly enjoys meeting the interesting people he has spoken with on tours and loved the opportunities he has had to visit abroad representing Waterford Crystal.

 

 

The House of Waterford Crystal is proud to have been named as the ‘Best Ireland's Ancient East Tourism Experience’ at the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) Awards. The Awards, organised by ITIC, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, gathered the ‘crème de la crème’ of the Irish tourism industry, announcing 15 winning companies as best in their category from 75 shortlisted finalists, selected from approximately 250 entries.  TV Presenter, Kathryn Thomas hosted the gala evening and was attended by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, who presented the awards. The Awards give recognition to companies and organisations, both overseas and at home – that have made significant contributions to developing, marketing, selling and delivering improved visitor experiences in Ireland and to increasing the number of visitors from overseas. Winners on the night included Aer Lingus, Cliffs of Moher and St Patricks Festival.

 

The team are delighted and honoured to have received this prestigious award!

 

The House of Waterford Crystal is proud to have been named as the ‘Best Ireland's Ancient East Tourism Experience’ at the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) Awards. The Awards, organised by ITIC, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, gathered the ‘crème de la crème’ of the Irish tourism industry, announcing 15 winning companies as best in their category from 75 shortlisted finalists, selected from approximately 250 entries.

 

TV Presenter, Kathryn Thomas hosted the gala evening and was attended by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, who presented the awards. The Awards give recognition to companies and organisations, both overseas and at home – that have made significant contributions to developing, marketing, selling and delivering improved visitor experiences in Ireland and to increasing the number of visitors from overseas. Winners on the night included Aer Lingus, Cliffs of Moher and St Patricks Festival.

 

The team are delighted and honoured to have received this prestigious award!

Did you know that the only large-scale, 9th century Viking settlement discovered in Western Europe is located just 9km west of Waterford city?

Likely to be the largest Viking settlement outside of Scandinavia during this period, Woodstown was established in the mid-to-late 800s, before the Vikings established Ireland’s oldest City, Waterford in 914.

The remains were discovered during the construction of a city by-pass in 2003. The site at Woodstown was ideally suited to the water-travelling Vikings as the network of rivers now known as the Three Sisters, provided ready access to Ireland’s inland counties. Finds at the site reflect the extent of Viking trading networks and include pieces of Irish-made jewellery, amber from the Baltic, silver coins from the Near East and weapons from Scandinavia.

The most exciting find at Woodstown was the discovery of a warrior grave, probably a Viking chieftain, which contained his sword, shield, spear, axe, knife and a ring-pin which he would have used to fasten his cloak. These fascinating grave-goods and other finds from Woodstown are on permanent display in Reginald’s Tower!

So many thrilling tales – of Vikings, High Kings and Heroes, Castles and Conquests – are written in the local landscape; you will find these fused into the story of Waterford and the evolution of Waterford Crystal.

To this day our craftsmen are fired by the history and legends around us, reinvigorating them in contemporary ways to create unique collections like The Vikings Lands in Waterford.

 

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