Around the World in 69 Days - Fall 2007 travel blog


newly blown

applying the handle

shaped into mold

marked with guidelines

etching the glass

engraving tools

impressive sample

911 memorial

engraved protypes

Waterford was on the agenda today so that we could visit its world famous glass manufacturing facility. This tour took us onto the production floor and we saw every step of the intricate process up close and personal. We started in the mold room

where wooden and metal molds are produced to shape many of the products after they are blown. The workers in the room where the glass is blown

work in teams of three. They only get paid if the pieces they produce are perfect. Waterford does not believe in selling seconds. Inferior pieces are destroyed - that's a job that would be a could stress reliever - and the glass shards are remelted. Pieces that are made repeatedly are marked with felt tip guidelines put on by machine.

These lines do not show the artists where to cut, but rather helps them space and achieve symmetry. Some pieces are also engraved

and then the pieces are given a quick acid dip to achieve their final luster. All the artisans who work at Waterford serve lengthy apprenticeships and attend art school as well. Waterford produces trophies for many top professional sports competitions. They always produce two just in case, so we had a chance so see many of the back up pieces that were not needed. Of course, the tour ended in the showroom where we admired many totally unaffordable and spectacular pieces.

Then it was on to a museum that told the history of the city of Waterford. It must be tough to be an Irish school child and study so many years of depressing lore. The story in this town began around 800 with the attacks of the Vikings. The museum tried to keep things interesting as it told one sad story after another of Irish fighting, getting attacked and mostly losing. We sat in a Viking ship that rocked on the stormy seas as the lightening flashed and the wind roared. Then the Normans came from France and of course the British caused endless misery here. And then there was the Bubonic Plague or Black Death wiping out all the residents of a town or monastery. The museum was well done, but there were more kings than you could shake a stick at and we left the place in need of a little levity.

The day plan included two more stops, but after our bad experience trying to find a B & B in the dark yesterday, we headed down the road to tonight's haven. Even with the assistance of the GPS, a stop at the tourist information office was needed to put us on the right lane after we arrived in Cashel town. The narrow, winding roads make us go more slowly than the distance would indicate and we came to a complete stop behind someone moving a building down the road with a tractor.

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