Waterford, Ireland Waterford Crystal
It rained during the night but it stopped by the time we were ready to go downstairs for breakfast.
Learned something new about our B&B. This structure was for the servants. The front of the building was used as servant quarters while the section we are in was originally an attached barn. The main house was across the street and up the hill a short distance. Today, it is a hotel.
The deer across from our room were enjoying their meal, too. The Highland cattle bulls were in the back barn and the other cattle were off in a distant pasture.
Began the day with an exceptionally tasty breakfast. We spoke with a mother and daughter on vacation from Austria. Michael spoke some German to her and she spoke some English to him. Pleasant way to start the day.
On the buffet, we could choose homemade granola with mixed berries served with natural organic yoghurt and local produced honey from the Hook area.
There was a selection of fresh fruit, juices assorted dry cereals, stewed seasonal fruits, etc.
I had the omelette
Michael had the scrambled eggs. Michael remarked they certainly knew how to prepare eggs. Very yummy tasting!
This morning we decided to go on the Waterford crystal tour. We took the ferry across instead of driving the long way as there is construction in New Ross.
We had to wait for the tour to begin so we browsed through the different product displays.
The beginnings of glass making in Ireland are lost in the mists of time, but there is sufficient archaeological evidence to show that, from the early Iron Age, glass was regarded with respect. Indeed, medieval documents can prove glass making existed in Ireland back in the middle 13th century.
The company of Waterford was first established in 1783 on land adjacent to Merchants' Quay in the heart of the Irish harbor town of Waterford, just minutes from the present day House of Waterford Crystal. Its founders were brothers, William and George Penrose, important developers and principal exporters in the city. Their vision was to "create the finest quality crystal for drinking vessels and objects of beauty for the home." More than two hundred years later, the reputation they established for creating glass of unsurpassed beauty and quality has transcended the intervening centuries.
The Penrose brothers opened the first glass making factory in Waterford in 1783, where their work was immediately recognized for its clarity and purity of color. They enjoyed success well into the 1800’s. However, after 70 years of operating, the Penrose brothers' glass making factory fell victim to a turn of events that echo today’s business woes -- in 1853, the company fell victim to a lack of capitalization, and was sadly forced to close.
After a period of dormancy, the Waterford story resumes in 1947 when glassmaker Kael Bacik hired fellow Czech Miroslav Havel as Chief Designer for his fledgling glass making operation in Ireland. Havel spent many hours at the National Museum of Ireland studying surviving examples of the Penrose brothers’ crystal from the 18th and 19th centuries. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company, and it is from these designs in 1952 that Havel created the now iconic Lismore, which remains the world’s best-selling crystal pattern.
Waterford Crystal today maintains very strong links with its illustrious predecessors. There is the same dedication to purity of color, design inspiration and highest quality levels: core values carried over and maintained from the company’s earliest beginnings.
The craft of making Waterford Crystal has benefited from advances in technology over the years, yet the 21st century process would not be unfamiliar to 18th century founders George and William Penrose should they visit the Waterford factory today. Hand-craftsmanship, precision skill and artistic excellence remain the core components that transform the finest of raw materials into the world’s premium luxury crystal.
The House of Waterford Crystal Design Studio is the incubator for the dreams, ideas and inspirations that become Waterford Crystal. The designers spent years learning the craft, with hands on experience in every aspect of the crystal making process. With imagination and artistic vision, designers capture the spirit of exciting new themes and ideas in the medium of crystal, and update and re-imagine classic Waterford patterns for the contemporary tastes of a global audience.
Waterford Crystal is one of the few companies today that still practices the ancient craft of mold making. Very little has changed over the centuries: wood molds and hand tools of beech and pear woods are used by our Master Blowers to shape the molten crystal. Due to the searing heat of the crystal, these molds have a life span of just 7-10 days.
Using a furnace that reaches temperatures of 2,400 degrees F, Waterford craftsmen meticulously manipulate and transform molten balls of glowing, red hot crystal to reveal the elegant shapes of Waterford Crystal. The skill required of the Master Blower is the product of years of training and apprenticeship in artisan techniques practiced and perfected over hundreds of years.
Waterford Crystal is carefully inspected after each stage of production. Only pieces within Waterford Crystal's strict quality standards are allowed through to the next step of the process. There are six stringent inspections, and if at any stage the crystal is not considered to be first quality, it is rejected, smashed and sent back to the furnace for re-melting.
Raw materials are in each bag. The contents in the bag and any rejected glass is now put in the furnace to be melted down.
Prior to cutting, each piece is marked with a temporary geometric grid to assist the Master Cutter transferring the pattern onto the crystal. Geometric grids of horizontal and vertical guidelines are drawn on each piece using a marker that will eventually be removed during the cleaning process. Each individual pattern – there are hundreds – has been committed to memory by the cutter over years of training.
If it is a commissioned piece, more than one piece is made just in case there is an accident and they quickly need a replacement.
The basketball is the trophy for this year's winning NCAA basketball team.
Waterford Crystal practices two types of cutting: Wedge Cutting and Flat Cutting. Advances in technology enable the Master Cutter to employ industrial diamond-tipped wheels to cut the crystal, which affords the highest quality and cut to the crystal. But technology is no replacement for proficiency. Waterford craftspeople train for a minimum of 8 years to master their craft. The Master cutter must rely on his skill to judge the amount of pressure that is required to hold the crystal to the wheel – too much pressure will affect a ruinous cut through to the other side.
They only use a machine if the piece is too heavy to hold for a long period of time or to make perfect circles.
The cut crystal piece is then thoroughly polished to smooth any rough edges and bring forth the trademark brilliance of Waterford Crystal. Unless there is additional work required, like wheel engraving, it’s off to final inspection and a waiting world.
The method of forming a Waterford Crystal sculpture is essentially the same as stone sculpture, except that cutting wheels are used instead of mallets and stone chisels. With the mastery of a true artisan, the Master Sculptor works three-dimensionally to sculpt his creation from a solid block of crystal. Due to its’ painstaking nature, completion of a sculpted crystal piece can take days, weeks, even months depending on size and complexity
The Coca Cola bottle was made for a retiring president. The urn is where they put a few ashes from the original cricket mallets.
Queen Elizabeth gives these away as gifts to family and friends.
They made another one for Barack Obama for St. Patrick's Day in 2012. It was filled with shamrocks.
The type of copper wheel engraving used at Waterford Crystal is called 'Intaglio,' which means “reverse.” The deeper the engraver etches into the crystal, the more prominent the object appears. On Waterford’s International sporting trophies and large, limited edition inspiration pieces, it can take anywhere from a few hours to many days to complete the engraving.
The engraver was doing the piece as an artistic work for Waterford. It just so happened that on the tour was the firefighter represented in the middle of the engraving. He identified himself and created many a tear at the factory. The firefighter went back to NYC and told the Fire Commissioner about the piece. The NYFD paid for the piece and it is now at the 9/11 museum. This is the secondary piece; which is always created in case the original is damaged.
We also had time to visit Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted house. We were allowed to take pictures of the outside but we weren’t permitted to take any inside the house.
Loftus Hall through the years
1171 Norman Knight Raymond Le Gros built the first castle on this site. His name evolved into “Redmond”.
1350 the original Redmond Hall was constructed
1649 the Redmond family battle Cromwell’s forces to a truce, allowing them to stay resident at the Hall until the death of the head of the family, Alexander Redmond
1666 the Loftus family took ownership of the Hall, renaming it Loftus Hall
1870 the 4th Marquess of Ely, John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus, undertook extensive renovations at Loftus Hall in preparation for a visit from Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Most of the magnificent architecture and interior detail that can be seen today, including the majestic main staircase, dates back to his refurbishment
1917 Loftus Hall was run as a convent and school for girls
1983 purchased by Michael Deveraux, Loftus Hall was opened as “Loftus Hall Hotel”. The hotel was subsequently closed in the early 1990’s
2012 Loftus Hall was reopened to the public as a tourist attraction by its current owners, the Quigley family
The Legend of Loftus Hall
This is their description:
Charles Tottenham came to take care of the mansion in 1666 with his second wife and daughter from his first marriage, Anne, while the Loftus family were away on business. During a storm, a ship unexpectedly arrived at the Hook Peninsula, where the mansion was located. A young man was welcomed into the mansion. Anne and the young man became very close. One night, the family and mysterious man were in the Card room playing cards. In the game, each player received 3 cards apart from Anne who was only dealt 2 by the mystery man. A butler serving the Tottenham family at the table was just about to question the man when Anne bent down to pick another card from the floor which she must have dropped. It is said that when Anne bent over to pick up the card, she looked beneath the table to see that the mysterious man had a cloven foot. It was then that Anne stood up and said to the man you have a cloven foot and the man went up through the roof, leaving behind a large hole in the ceiling. Soon Anne became mentally ill. It is believed that the family were ashamed of Anne and locked her away in her favorite room; where she would be happy, yet out of everyone's view; which was known as the Tapestry Room. She refused food and drink, and sat with her knees under her chin, looking out the Tapestry Room window across the sea to where Dunmore East is today, waiting for her mysterious stranger to return until she died in the Tapestry Room in 1675. It is said that when she died, they could not straighten her body, as her muscles had seized, and she was buried in the same sitting position in which she had died. A rumour states that the hole could never be properly repaired, and it is alleged that even to this day, there is still a certain part of the ceiling which is slightly different from the rest. Meanwhile, it was believed that the stranger with the cloven hoof returned to the house and caused persistent poltergeist activity. A number of Protestant clergymen apparently tried and failed to put a stop to this. The family, who were themselves Protestants, eventually called on Father Thomas Broaders (a Catholic priest, who was also a tenant on the Loftus Hall estate) to exorcise the house. The apparent success of Father Broaders' exorcism did not end the ghostly visitations at Loftus Hall. The ghost of a young woman, presumed to be Anne Tottenham, was reported to have made frequent appearances in the Hall and has been reported to have been seen on the tour, opened in 2011. Interest in the ghost story has remained strong and many aspects of the story seem to have attached themselves to the house. A documentary about the mansion released many years later, after the last owners had gone, had said that there were reports from staff that had previously worked at the mansion, that they have seen Anne's ghost walk down the stairs, and that horses can be heard around the building. There is much speculation as to whether or not this story is true. Some believe that the family went bankrupt and wanted to draw tourism to a bar they had in the hall during the 1900s. Others believe it was a story made up to keep begging peasants away, as Queen Victoria was coming to visit, but never in fact did arrive.
The House Tour
By taking a tour of the hall, we learned the history of the hall through the ages, how the Hall has passed through many hands through the years. Michael and I had a part of re-enacting the famous card game with the dark stranger that was the origination of The Legend of Loftus Hall! I played the lady of the house and Michael played the head of the house.
A partially independent documentary film was made by Waterford man Rick Whelan, which was released in 1993 as The Legend of Loftus Hall. This film details the story, dramatizing certain parts, such as the card game, with actors.
The documentary was well received, with Whelan now seen locally and nationally as a figure of authority on the history of Loftus Hall. The Legend of Loftus Hall stars Elaine Lumley as Anne and Jim O'Mara as Broaders. It also features a full supporting cast of all the characters from the legend, with Liam Murphy as Loftus and Frank Coughlan as Charles Tottenham.
A new feature film, simply titled Loftus Hall, was announced in early 2006 and development began on the project in 2007. Actors Keith Duffy, Samantha Mumba and Adelaide Clemens have reportedly been in talks at various stages to appear in the film. Samantha Mumba appeared in Dublin in January 2010 to promote the film. Duffy reportedly left the project midway through 2010 due to prior contractual commitments that would have interfered with the film's proposed schedule. In a recent interview at the launch party of Frilogy.com, Samantha Mumba stated that details on Loftus Hall were being kept top secret. After suffering financial difficulties throughout 2010 that stalled the production, it was announced during a questions and answers session at the 2011 Galway Film Fleadh that funding had been secured and the project was being completely rebooted to make it much darker and grittier. It was also stated that the resulting film will be much more accurate and faithul to the source material. The release date was originally set as October 1, 2012, which was later pushed back to 2013. It has been confirmed that Loftus Hall will be the first Irish film to be released in 3D.
In April 2011, an unrelated amateur production was announced, simply entitled 'Loftus'. A full theatrical trailer was produced as a funding and marketing tool for the project. The project is a joint venture between the Wexford-based production company Highwind Films and Sunrise Innovations. The project is currently in the funding process with a target release date in summer 2012. Further information regarding the project and its progress can be found at www.loftusthemovie.com.
In August 2014, Loftus Hall was investigated by the hit US paranormal TV show, Ghost Adventures. Loftus Hall was featured in the Ghost Adventures Halloween special, 'Celtic Demons', in October 2014.
Went to the Hollow Seafood and Steak Restaurant again tonight. I learned today that both the father and son are named Simon. The young Simon greeted us immediately. He said he was the car in front of us on the ferry. We were dropped off at The Hollow the night before so he wasn’t absolutely sure if it was we. We even have “our table”at this restaurant. Two new fish choices on the menu tonight: ling(a type of cod) and mussels. Michael chose the pan fried ling as I wanted the mussels. We did share. I love mussels. Tonight, I had them prepared differently. As the mussels were steamed, Simon’s mother prepared the sauce. She finely chopped shallots and celery. They were sautéed until translucent. At the same time, she finely chopped up bacon (it looked more like ham to me) and sautéed this. In a sauce pan, she added wine to the mixture . Finally she added heavy cream and simmered it. Do not bring to a boil. Pour over the mussels. Serve with garlic bread and parsley.
Another great day of daffodils, lambs, interesting tours and delicious food.