Waterford Crystal

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

CIMG0969George and  William Penrose opened their glassworks at Waterford in 1783.  For over two hundred and twenty-five years the city has been home to some of the finest craftsmen in Ireland who were producing some of the world’s most beautiful crystal. You would have to have been living on another planet to have missed the news of the factory closure earlier this year. I was on a visit home to Waterford last weekend and popped into the  Granary, the cities history museum. One of their exhibits on the history of Waterford Crystal reminded me that the factory closure is not just a financial loss that will affect the community but a huge cultural loss to Ireland. The growth of Waterford and the history of the city is linked closely to the Glass Factory and as a proud Déise I will have to admit it is hard to believe that it is gone. Waterford has grown with the expansion of the Glass industry in Ireland since the seventeenth century and almost every building and home in the city proudly displays the produce of the city’s most famous export. I took a few photos from the exhibition to illustrate that the closure of Waterford Crystal is a huge loss to Irish craftsmanship and that an important aspect of the econcomic life of Ireland is now history.CIMG0959CIMG0960


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10 Responses to “Waterford Crystal”

  1. Marie Coleman Says:

    Brian Havel’s ‘Maestro of Crystal’ is a very good account of the modern history of the company. It is also examined in my fortcoming book on the Irish sweepstake, in the context of its purchase by the McGrath family in the 1950s.

  2. carly Says:

    Why was the it closed down?

  3. carly Says:

    Why was it closed down?

  4. puesoccurrences Says:

    A decrease in demand, the company bought Wedgewood (already loosing a huge amount) in the 90s and bad management all made sure that the comapny was suffering. There was very little done to plug the hole and the ship sunk! It was a good business that needed to be downsized and the owners took the factory somewhere else. It will still be produced but not in Ireland and not by Irish workers. I don’t want to get into anything too political or contemporary but the government did very little to support those that lost their jobs or indeed to try and keep the company in Ireland.


  5. puesoccurrences Says:

    It was announced this week that Waterford City Council would invest 20 million euro and create 100 new jobs to develop a major visitor centre to manufacture and sell the crystal in Waterford again so it does look like the tradition will stay in the city! The council want to hold on to at least part of the 300,000 people that visited the factory showroom each year. The tourism that it brought to Waterford was huge and without the centre most people will unfortunately by-pass the city. This is great news though.


  6. Lynne Says:

    Hello Lisa ~

    I am undertaking a dissertation for my MBA with University of Liverpool on leadership and mergers using Waterford Crystal as my case study. If you know of anyone who has worked for Waterford Crystal in any capacity I would appreciate them undertaking an anonymous survey that should take only 10/15 minutes to complete.

    The survey can be accessed at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=PmTEtENa1i_2bDdVZa6vcFLw_3d_3d

    Thank you in advance. ~ Lynne

  7. puesoccurrences Says:

    Dear Lynne,

    Have you tried getting on contact more formerly with some of the union representatives or even the local newspapers? The Munster Express would be a good one to try and they could put you in contact with more people. I am sure they would be eager to help you.

    Good luck!

  8. Lynne Says:

    Thanks for your reply, Lisa. I tried Waterford News and Star but no response and have asked union to forward, which I hope they’ll do and I’ll try Munster Express.

    If you come across anyone please ask them…I have two weeks left to complete this! Best ~ Lynne

  9. puesoccurrences Says:

    Hi Lynne,

    Thats really dissapointing! I don’t know if I could put you in touch with anyone in two weeks I am afraid but best of luck and if I think of anything or anyone I will forward it on to you.


  10. Michael Keane Says:


    I was just wondering if anyone has an e mail address for Brian Havel.

    Greatly Appreciated

    Michael Keane

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