Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 12, 2018

Waterford Reborn

Our last adventure was a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory.  We had hoped to stop at least one other place, but the recalcitrant GPS kept ignoring the motorways. (One interesting anecdote to the GPS challenge was that often when I brought up a route on Google maps on my phone it had me going back roads, but when my friend Googled the same destination on her US phone it had her on the main roads.  This confirmed my suspicion that because I had an Irish cell phone, Google Maps thought I should be familiar with every little back lane across the entire country.  A word to Google – you know what they say about ass-umptions.)

I had visited the Waterford Crystal factory on one or two bus tours back in the 1990’s – what I call the real Waterford Crystal – all made in Ireland.  In 2009, the factory I knew closed.  Today’s visitor’s center and factory is at a new location, closer to the location of the original glass works.

Most of the pieces us common folk would buy are made in places live Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany.  The Irish Waterford factory primarily produces high profile pieces such as sporting trophies, specialty pieces, and the triangular crystals for the New Year’s Eve ball that drops in Times Square.

The tour is quite interesting, though smaller than I remember.  Some pieces are blown into wooden molds that have been designed for the occasion.  At least three of every commissioned piece is made – almost like an heir and a couple of spares.  All three travel at least part way through the process, though if the first or second are considered perfect enough the remaining are left in their unfinished states.


Waterford Molds for certain trophies or commissioned pieces


Waterford glass blower


Waterford glass blower


Waterford Crystal


Waterford Crystal Nutcracker


Waterford Crystal 9-11 commemoration piece

I have great admiration, in particular, for the glass cutters who work in the tourist part of the factory.  It can’t be easy doing your job, concentrating on getting the lines cut in the right place at the right thickness on the piece while hundreds of tourists wander past, chatting and snapping photos.

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Is glass cutting by artisans a dying art?  They had two machines that were programmed to cut a glass pattern onto a piece.  From what the tour guide said, the machines hadn’t quite perfected the cutting process, but I suspect it won’t be long before yet another craft goes the way of automation – stamped out like cookie cutters.  At least I can say I remember when…


  1. Love Waterford. I was at the factory about 14 years ago. It has obviously changed but I still love the Irish Waterford.

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