One nice thing about where we were staying was we had a lot of options of things to do and see. Highest on my list was going to the Waterford Crystal factory, so we headed out early in the morning since it was a bit of a drive to get there. It was well worth the trip though, probably one of the best tours of our entire trip. I was very surprised at just how much of the manufacturing process we got to see.
The tour started with a history of the company with a fantastic display about the celebration for Millenium New Year's Eve. Waterford made the ball that dropped in Times Square for the event:
Two were made--one for the actual event and the "spare" shown here.
From there we got to see the glass blowing process:
Some pieces awaiting the next steps in the process:
This woman is marking reference points for the glass cutting process:
The glass cutters at Waterford have gone through a rigorous training process and there are only several people who do all of the cutting.
Some of the prototypes with the layouts on them for reference.
This is where some of the custom work is done. I especially liked this vase with the ship etched in to it.
Two trophies for golf tournaments here in the United States:
Of course the tour ends with an exit on to the showroom floor! I purchased a small item, partially because it was all I wanted to spend and also because lead crystal weighs a ton. I'd already purchased a large piece at Galway crystal and I had to take in to consideration packing these pieces in my carry-on bag!
As you exited the showroom, this beautiful crystal harp was displayed, how appropriate.
I will say that I can't guarantee anyone the same experience we had. A couple of years ago Waterford hit hard times, underwent a complete re-organization and closed the Ireland factory. I thought that seemed kind of strange seeing as that is where it started! They have since resumed operations in Ireland, but I don't think it is in the same location it was originally, I have no idea if they still have tours and if they do, no idea if they are as extensive. It would definitely be worth checking out though, if it is anything close to what we experienced, you won't be sorry!