I hope all is well with you all. Ireland is renowned for many things, not least its long list of craft traditions. World-class crystal production definitely ranks high on that varied list. At The Irish Store, Irish crystal is one of our most popular Irish gifts from Ireland and it’s easy to see why. A beautiful crystal gift is a perfect way to mark those special occasions in a truly memorable way. Gifts to be cherished and passed down the generations. So let’s go back in time and find out where the story of Irish crystal began.
Irish Crystal; A Brief History
The history of Irish Crystal goes back to the late 17th century. George Ravenscroft started the tradition in 1676. The glassmaker added lead oxide to the silicates that make up molten glass. The process achieved a softness which allowed the glass to be blown and carved while remaining hard and clear as it cooled. The first crystal factory in Ireland opened in county Tyrone in 1771.
George and William Penrose followed suit in 1783 with the establishment of Penrose Glass House in Waterford. Cork Glass House quickly followed in the same year. The Waterloo Glass Company and Terrace Glass Works also opened in Cork in 1818. The industry began to thrive as demand grew rapidly. However, a number of factors stopped this fledgling industry in it’s tracks.
First of all, the 1800 Act of Union totally banned the export of Irish glass products although the most damaging effect on the industry would be the advent of the potato famine in the 1840s. Due to the terrible effects of the Great Hunger, numerous skilled craftsmen were lost through immigration. Practically all crystal production in Ireland stopped as a result of these mitigating circumstances. It would take another 100 years for the industry to be resurrected. Waterford would once more be the place for that revival.
3 Iconic Irish Crystal Makers
1. Waterford Crystal
Charles Bacik, a Czech immigrant, re-established a glassworks in Waterford city in 1947. Together with a number of highly skilled artisans he grew the business and the level of skill to a world class standard. Even to this day, the reputation of Waterford Crystal has never wavered. The name continues to be synonymous with timeless elegance and classic style.
Waterford Crystal chandeliers can be found in the halls of Westminster Abbey, Windsor castle, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. One of their most iconic pieces has to be the hugely impressive New Year’s Eve ball which drops into Times Square NYC each year. It measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11875 pounds and is made up of no less than 2688 crystals!
The Waterford Crystal Lismore Carriage Clock (pictured above) has to be one of my favorites from The Irish Store crystal collection. It features the long running and much loved Lismore cut. The perfect Irish gift for those very special occasions.
2. Galway Crystal
Galway Crystal stands on the shores of the majestic Atlantic Ocean in the heart of the west of Ireland. Purveyors of fine Irish crystal for nearly half a century.
The Kells Decanter and Glasses Set (pictured above) is without a doubt the centerpiece of our Galway Crystal collection. A memorable gift for retirements and those milestone birthdays.
3. Tipperary Crystal
Born in 1988, Tipperary Crystal is a true leader in the world of Irish crystal. You can discover their impressive visitor’s center and studio in Carrick on Suir which nestles in the shadow of Slievenamon.
The Tipperary Crystal range exudes understated elegance. A collaboration in 1991 with fashion legend Sybil Connolly resulted in a highly successful range for the iconic Tiffany. This was followed in the late 1990s by a further collaboration with the celebrated Irish designer, Louise Kennedy.
The Oceana Vase (pictured above) comes from the Louise Kennedy range perfectly combining the finest craftsmanship with a modern sophisticated aesthetic. Simply stunning.
So why not shop our full range of your Irish Crystals collection today!
Thanks for joining me once again and do stay tuned as we continue the journey through Ireland’s places, customs and culture.
See you next week,
Slán go fóill!