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

 

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we thought we would share some of our favourite romantic walks and picturesque places around Waterford

- catch a sunset, take in the charm of our local towns and villages, and witness the rugged beauty of the Waterford coastline. Perfect for planning the special moments on your next visit!

Copper Coast Roaming...

Waterford's Copper Coast is a stunning 25km stretch of coastline with an abundance of cliffs, bays,coves and panoramic seascapes. You will be spoilt for choice of idyllic areas to explore - from Bunmahon and Clonea to Annestown and Kilfassary you don't want to miss this gorgeous coastal adventure!

Wandering Village Views...

Dunmore East is a charming fishing village, with vibrant little cottages and beautiful views from the cove and pier. Stretch your legs with a stroll, enjoy the fresh air along the cliff walk then treat yourself to a 99 ice-cream - a perfect afternoon date!

Sunset On The Prom...

Tramore beach & prom is a must when you are in the area. Boasting some gorgeous views of the coastline on top of the beautiful orange/pink sunsets you can come across, a twilight walk on the prom is the perfect date activity. Grab a coffee to heat you up while you walk, then afterwards a classic fish and chip from Dooleys is sure to be a winner!

A Whimsical Picnic...

Tucked away about a 30 minute walk from the town of Lismore, the striking gothic style bridge and towers of Ballysaggertmore are a beautiful fairy-tale backdrop for a romantic picnic! To reach this wonderful hidden gem, wander through an easy forest trail dotted with plenty of benches along the way. 

Quayside Rambling...

Waterford City has plenty of places to explore. Take a relaxing stroll around the city's main 'People's Park', wander around town and discover the wonderful street art and installations of 'Waterford Walls' or take in the river views of the Suir along the Waterford Quay - this one is great at sunset too!

 

Waterford Crystal's White House connection dates back to 1961 when Dot Tubridy initiated the annual tradition of presenting a Waterford Crystal bowl of shamrock in the Oval Office on St Patrick’s Day.

Dot Tubridy was a long time friend of the Kennedy family. This friendship began when Dot and her husband Michael traveled to New York for an international show jumping competition and met Ethel Skakel whom later married Robert Kennedy. Dot's husband Michael was a renowned show jumper with the Irish Army's equestrian team. Tragically he passed away in a riding accident at the age of 31. Following his death, Dot spent some time with Robert & Ethel Kennedy recuperating from her loss. She was offered a job and became Waterford Crystal's PR representative in the US market, appearing on many US radio and television shows promoting Waterford Crystal. As well as this, Dot became an unofficial ambassador for Ireland, which she was later recognized for in 1989. 

Dot had a natural flair in PR and established a number of important opportunities for Waterford Crystal. She became friends with Bing Crosby which led to Waterford producing trophies for his famous charity golf classics. Dot is credited for creating the Shamrock Bowl tradition which continues to this day and she also inspired President Ronald Reagan to purchase 200 Waterford biscuit bowls for friends during his time in office in the 1980's. It is said that Dot's friendship with the Kennedys inspired JFK's visit to Ireland in 1963. 

Dot passed away in 2018 at the age of 92. In 2019, members of the Kennedy family traveled to Trim, Co Meath, for the opening of an exhibition dedicated to Dot. The Exhibition 'Dear Dot' displayed over 10,000 pieces of pictures, letters and memorabilia from Dot's personal collection. Some of the letters contained correspondence from JFK, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bing Crosby to name a few. Waterford Crystal created a footed bowl to commemorate the opening of the 'Dear Dot' exhibition. The piece featured the Kennedy and Tubridy Crests as well as Dot Tubridy's favorite saying 'May the Road Rise With You and the Wind Be at Your Back'.

Over the years there have been many pieces of Waterford Crystal exchanged, including a Waterford Boat Bowl which was given to President Elect Joe Biden in 2013 when he was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame. We would like to send best wishes to President Biden as he is inaugurated today and we look forward to his future visit to Ireland.

Pierce Mc Grath - Master Flat Cutter & Sculptor

Pierce McGrath started his career with Waterford Crystal over 51 years ago. He joined the company at the young age of 16 years.

Pierce remembers it well he says, “A very easy date to remember 9/9/1969 was when it all began and in a blink of an eye here we are all these years later”.  Pierce was born and reared in Tinhalla, Co. Waterford, where he lived with his mother, father, and older brother. A cousin of his Mam’s, John Quann (a man Pierce had great respect for) was a wedge cutter at Waterford Crystal.  John knew that the company was looking to recruit apprentices and he thought Pierce would be a good fit for the job. Pierce remembers well the interview with Tom Healy (HR), a daunting experience for a quiet country boy, but he impressed Tom and was told to report for work and meet with Mr. Carelli on his first day. 

Pierce reported for duty but could not remember the name of the man he was to report to, being very shy and retiring he didn’t ask either.  Pierce laughs as he recalls “I didn’t get to meet Carelli for a further 3 weeks!!”  On meeting Carelli he didn’t make any references to the missing weeks and neither did Pierce!  Carelli who had come to Waterford from Italy went on to train Pierce as an apprentice flat cutter on his bench. To train as a flat cutter at Waterford you must serve 5 years as an apprentice and then a further three years to master the craft. At the end of each year the apprentice must complete an exam piece. Throughout the years Pierce trained with lots of masters and fondly remembers Jim Purcell and Jimmy Cusack as great mentors. He adds that Dixie Baily was a ‘Top Notch’ gentleman.  

Pierce forged friendships with these men and learned the tricks of the trade from them all. He points out that the 13 men on each bench were paid by piece so it was in their interest to train you well. This came with the pressure of knowing if you messed up or slowed the team down, this would be reflected in the weekly wage and you certainly didn’t want to be blamed for a poor wage!!  

Pierce invested in a motorbike which held a great fascination for the young Pierce. As he was now working he was able to purchase one and pay it off from his weekly wage.  Pierce would ride in and out, 20 miles each way between the factory and his home.  In the third year of training at Waterford, on one of those long cold and wet journeys home, Pierce decided to apply to the Garda Síochána. He took the exam in the Olympia in Waterford, and was called for an interview in Portlaw Garda Station, and he was then called to Dublin for a medical and an Oral Irish exam. Pierce says, “I was nervous enough about taking the Irish exam, that went without a hitch. The doctor at the medical commented that it was a pity I didn’t get a haircut before I came up. I laughed because I did get a haircut but it wasn’t a crew cut befitting a garda, it was now shoulder length!!”. Well, the shoulder-length hair didn’t hinder Pierces' chances and he was successful in his application and was given a date to start in Templemore at the Garda Training Centre. 

To be selected to train as a Garda was quite the honor, to pass the rigorous vetting and testing was no small achievement.  Pierce says it was a very tough choice between remaining at Waterford, working with a world-renowned brand doing a job which he loved surrounded by a group of comrades he respected, or making the decision to train as a garda. “My parents, even though they were very proud that I was successfully selected, were also very worried about me joining the force as there was trouble in the north and the Garda were manning the border. They thought it was just too risky”.  So, Pierce decided to continue his training and went on to qualify as a flat cutter. “I often think about what path my life would have taken if I had chosen to train as a Garda, but I don’t have regrets. I got to remain in Tinhalla, a very beautiful place.  I went on to spend 51 years at Waterford, so I reckon I made the right decision. I still commute to Waterford daily, but nowadays I have the luxury of a car. Motorbikes are still a great passion of mine,” he says.

Over the years Pierce has worked in the Butlerstown plant, where he specialised in Chandeliers and lighting. He also worked in Kilbarry, flat cutting pieces right up until 2003 when he moved into the Flat Mill where he worked on special pieces, trophies, and bespoke pieces. Pierce had the opportunity to go to Boston on an artisan event in 1995, where he signed and personalized pieces for customers. He enjoyed the experience of meeting the customers and this event brought home to him how much Waterford Crystal meant to these people. The international appeal of the pieces he and his colleagues had created here in Waterford, truly amazed him.  Pierce said, “I felt very proud to represent the brand and my colleagues on this international platform.”

Pierce worked in the flat mill, right up until the plant closed in 2009.  “When the plant closed in Kilbarry, I was in my 50’s and I thought that’s it, I will never cut crystal again. I felt it was too late to retrain and find something I enjoyed as much as cutting crystal - I had spent nearly 40 years crafting and creating pieces.

In 2010, when news broke that Waterford Crystal was reopening, Pierce was thrilled to be selected by Dermot Barlow and Tony Grant to return to doing what he knew best, cutting crystal.  Pierce says “It just felt like coming home when we started back here on the Mall in Waterford, everything was so familiar, the sounds and the smells of the crystal being created. When you have spent so long involved in a craft like this its ingrained in your very fiber”.

Pierce is not a man to sit on his laurels and in 2013 he was given the opportunity to move into the sculpting area at the House of Waterford Crystal. This move gave him the chance to work with the Sculpting team creating bespoke and one-off pieces and of course the amazing Trophies that are created here.  Pierce is a huge fan of golfing so it’s no surprise to hear that his favorite trophy he to have worked on was the Phoenix Golf Trophy and most recently the 3M Golf Trophy. Pierce says,” I get great satisfaction watching the tournament being played and then seeing the winner receive the trophy that I have played a part in creating, a truly unique experience”.  One of the most memorable, one-off pieces that Pierce created was a stunning motorbike sculpted from several blocks of crystal. “It was a privilege to create that piece, working on something you are very passionate about brings something very special to the finished piece,” Pierce fondly recalls.

Pierce is a true craftsman, hardworking with great pride in his work. Pierce says these traits came from his parents. His father worked all of his life in the local tannery and his mother came from a long line of blacksmiths. You could say hard work and craftsmanship were embedded from a young age.  When Pierce reflects on his 51 years at Waterford, he says, “Over the years, I have enjoyed meeting people from all corners of the world as they pass through our factory, people who have a passion for the pieces we create here. It’s always lovely to chat with them about what I’m working on.  I have learned so much from all of the great men I have worked with over the years and I have made lifelong friends during my time at Waterford. When I started work as a 16-year-old boy I was the only one ever from Tinhalla to work at Waterford Crystal and I still hold that record!”

 

Christmas is upon us and the festivities have kicked off here in Waterford!

2020 has been the year of the unexpected, but that doesn't mean Christmas is cancelled! There are plenty of safe, outdoor festive events throughout Waterford that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit and enjoying the most wonderful time of the year!

 

Winterval 

Winterval is in full swing and the city is lit up by an array of beautiful lights and displays. It's the perfect place to wander and take in the festive sights, visit the Windows of Winterval and take a trip on the Big Wheel! - check out our Winterval blog here.

There's also other Christmas themed outdoor events happening throughout the county! 

 

 

Christmas at The Coastguard

 

The Coastguard Station in Tramore is located along the Doneraile clifftop where it has stood for over 150 years as protector and rescuer for the town and surrounding coastline. It offers unparalleled views overlooking Tramore Bay and the promenade and this year visitors can experience Christmas at the Coastguard! The gardens have been lit up with an array of stunning festive light displays to shine a light of hope at the end of what has been a challenging year.

As well as the beautiful light displays, visitors can browse the Christmas Craft Market cabins in the courtyard. The market is showcasing the wide selection of creative work being produced locally – meet the makers and purchase a homemade, local Christmas gift. The gift-wrapping station is available at select times over the weekend.

 

 

Inside the Coastguard Station, you can browse more beautiful artwork and craft pieces from Sinead Boyle Photography and Lady Alchemy / Linda Rice Ceramics as well as Lupita de Bhail Art in the upstairs gallery. Grab a hot chocolate and crepe in the café and take in the lovely festive atmosphere. Christmas at The Coastguard is running Wednesday – Sunday until the 22nd December. Visit their Facebook page and website coastguardculturalcentre.ie and coastguardcreatives.ie for more details on this lovely festive family outing!

 

 

The Enchanted Gardens

 

The Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore have been transformed into the beautiful 'Enchanted Gardens' for their annual winter lights event now in it's fifth year! Visitors will be mesmerized by the stunning sea of sparkling lights; animal sculptures and dramatic tree and foliage light displays that create this wonderful Winter Wonderland. This year the gardens theme is ‘Waterford Shines’ – a tribute to the great effort made by frontline staff and the people of Waterford during 2020.

 

 

Visitors will follow the path around the 1.5 acres of garden in a one-way system and may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Winter Fairy whom dwells in the gardens Japanese Ceremonial Teahouse! Takeaway drinks such as hot chocolate and Gluwein are available to enjoy while taking in the twinkling sights. The event is suitable for all ages – for more details and booking information visit lafcadiohearngardens.com.

 

          

 

The Festive Forest

 

The Festive Forest in Dungarvan is the first ever drive-thru Santa Adventure in the region, offering families a magical experience from the safety of their own cars! As visitors begin their journey, they will be first greeted by elves at the check-in booths before starting their adventure along the winding forest road. Along the way, witness plenty of dazzling light displays, Santa's sorting office, The Elves' Toy Workshop as well as Santa's Grotto and his reindeer! As visitors approach each attraction, they may roll down their car windows to witness their surroundings and see the experience as it comes to life. The Festive Forest journey takes about 30 minutes and the event will run until the 23rd of Decmeber. For further details and ticket availablility visit festiveforest.ie

 

 

 Kringletown Christmas Village

 

Located along the Waterford Greenway at Coach House Coffee in Kilmacthomas, Kringletown is a magical Christmas Experience for all the family! Visit the Christmas market stalls, pop in to the 'K.Kringle Christmas Emporium' for all of your Christmas decorating needs, hop on the Christmas Carousel and of course visit santa Claus himself at the Kringletown Santa Experience. As you explore the Christmas Village, treat yourself to some hot chocolate, mulled wine and festive sweet treats while taking in the warm festive atmosphere. Tickets are limited - visit Kringletown.ie for details!

 

 

 

 

 

The countdown to Christmas has officially started!

Here in Waterford, the home of Waterford Crystal, our annual Christmas festival 'Winterval' kicks off Friday the 4th and will run until December 23rd 2020! While this year will be a little different, Winterval will help everyone get into the festive spirit by filling the city of Waterford with festive outdoor events and displays!

Discover the magical sights of the city with Illuminating Waterford! The streets have been decorated with beautiful festive lighting as well as static lighting displays, creating a wonderful warm atmosphere for Winterval explorers. The Waterford Eye, a 32 meter high big wheel located on the Quay, is a firm favorite every year and the perfect way to see the city and the river Suir from a new height!

As you wander through the city, taking in the lights & sights, find all of the life-size nutcracker statues placed along the Christmas Nutcracker Trail to help discover Santa’s special Christmas message! A fun activity for all the family to enjoy while exploring the sights of Winterval 2020. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Windows of Winterval. Local businesses as well as Spraoi, Waterford Walls, Momentum Events and Everyevent have created some stunning window scenes - Once you spot your favourite make sure to share on Instagram and tag #Windowsofwinterval for your chance to win a special prize!

For further details and the full list of events visit Winterval.ie!

 

 

Did you know Waterford was once the Wine Capital of Ireland? As one of the oldest cities, Waterford's wine culture has played a huge role in its heritage for hundreds of years. With a long and colorful wine history, Waterford was once a bustling European port and a hub of wine commerce. This trade linked Waterford with some of the most sophisticated cities in Europe - namely Bristol, Bordeaux and Bruges.

Wine was imported into Waterford in wooden barrels, and wine jugs were needed to serve it. As by-products of the wine industry, these jugs were found in city center excavations and are now on display in Waterford's Medieval Museum. The museum is located opposite the House of Waterford Crystal and there you can learn all about Waterford's rich history and visit the 15th Century Mayor's Wine Vault. The vault was built around 1440 by a wealthy wine merchant called Peter Rice. Rice's son, James, went on to become mayor of Waterford and served for eleven terms.

With Waterford's wine history in mind, it's only natural that the best glasses for wine appreciation come from Waterford. We have various collections that we're sure will please everyone from the novice wine drinker to wine connoisseurs.

 

The Elegance Collection

Enhance your senses with The Elegance Collection, a relaxed yet elegant selection of drinkware, designed for the appreciation of fine wines, champagne and spirits. Perfect shapes of delicate bowls, a thin easy-to-hold stem, just the right weight and balance…this collection exudes perfection. Engage your senses with coveted crystal stemware, perfectly shaped for the ultimate tasting experience.

 

The Lismore Essence Collection

Featuring a narrow bowl that channels aromas towards the drinker, and a long, pulled stem to preserve the chilled temperature of its contents, each divinely crafted Lismore Essence White Wine glass is expertly designed to unlock the full potential of your most coveted white wine.

 

To browse more options in our full range of collections, visit Waterford.com.

 

Thinking ahead for your future trip to Waterford? This week we're highlighting the wonderful John F. Kennedy Arboretum located in New Ross in our neighboring County Wexford! It's the perfect day trip and not too far of a drive from Waterford.

The John F. Kennedy Arboretum is located just over a half hour drive from Waterford City. It is dedicated to the memory of U.S President John F. Kennedy whose great-grandfather, Patrick, was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown. The park itself covers a massive 623 acres and is home to a variety of over 4,500 trees and shrubs. The forest area of the park has 5 sections - each populated by trees from each continent of the world. A family friendly experience, the park has a playground and tree-houses to entertain the kids as well as an idyllic lake for a relaxing stroll. In the parks visitor centre, you can find exhibitions on JFK and on the Arboretum itself.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Ireland. While on tour he was presented with a beautiful Waterford Crystal Oval Bowl. The design was based on the Oval Office in The White House that he occupied as President of the United States of America. Pieces like this 'Kennedy Oval Bowl' are crafted by a Master Cutter, the intricate detailing and deep cutting make these precious Waterford Crystal masterpieces something to be treasured always.

 

If you're a fan of the outdoors, enjoy hiking and taking in some vast, stunning views, then The Comeragh Mountains should definitely be on your to-do list for your next trip to Waterford. This time of the year it can be a little chilly, but once you layer up you should be good to go!

The Comeragh Mountains are an impressive range in Waterford, stretching from the coast of Dungarvan inland to Clonmel. They make for the perfect location for a quick stroll or a full day of mountain exploration. There are a number of different routes you can take - The Coumshingaun Lake Walk and The Crouhan Walk to name a few. 

Nestled within the Comeragh range, visitors can find the idyllic 80 metre waterfall - Mahon Falls. Surrounded by sheer rock faces and inhabited with an abundance of goats and sheep, the falls are located close to the village of Lemybrien and make for a walk to remember with the perfect backdrop to capture some picture-perfect memories. 

On the way to Mahon Falls, explorers will come across 'The Magic Road'. Legend has it that if you stop at the bottom of the hill after you spot a 'Fairy Tree' covered in rags, put your car in neutral and the car will roll back up the hill! Find out if this is myth or magic for yourself!

Don't miss these breathtaking sights of the South-East!

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