House of Waterford Crystal

Spraoi 2019

Spraoi 2019 hit the streets. Most of people are merry, but not the Morbid family. Business is dead! People are too fit and healthy, they are not dying any more! Family is struggling.

The son is starving!

The last chance would be to open a pop up funeral shop and offer a funeral demo with the slogan “Buy now, die later”.

A school teacher Lisa got the privilege to demonstrate her best ‘dying face’. I think it is very impressive, and Lisa has secured a discount funeral with the Morbid & Sons for the future.

As always, I am amused by the reaction of those in the audience. The younger generation looks a little bit scared, and some are openly bored. What would they care of the discounted funerals, anyway ūüôā

But the Morbid family look very hopeful. Teacher Lisa returns to the world of living with the promise of future ‘perks’, and another show – and a new customer – is just 15 minutes away.

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With the Waterford Crystal House in background, The Tamarros marching band from Italy look very appropriate flashing their disco ball baton.

Old tunes and old jokes are fun and get a lot of applause.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to watch the Roaring Clubsters show from Berlin because of the huge crowd, but I caught a glimpse of the spectators, and, as always, watching the different reactions was very entertaining.

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Now, this is something new. A Russian Baba Yaga is roaming the streets in her automated mortar, and her little cottage, Izbushka, is trailing behind on its chicken legs. A tag on the cottage states that it is for sale, but don’t believe what you see. Baba Yaga wants to look legal while hunting for children to cook them for dinner. The pack of salt tied to the mortar speaks volumes…

Be aware, little children.

Checking for lice nits ūüôā She wants her food organic ūüôā

Smart children escaped being cooked. Baba Yaga keeps trying.

We wouldn’t wish her luck, would we?

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Charming show and a great music – the Los Rabinovich brothers from Mallorca! Musical clowns who don’t utter a word, but unite the hearts.

Even the rain didn’t stop the brave travelers. They are determined to stay in this city for the Bank holiday weekend and see what comes out of it.

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There sits the Always Drinking marching band from Barcelona, very sober and focused: the show is about to start in a minute. The Spraoi brochure states that their name refers to the “Mediterranian way of life – socializing in the streets, hanging out with friends in the squares, having some beers and tapas”. Sounds much better than “sitting alone, staring at computer screen” to me.

Always Drinking productions is a company of musician, artists, clowns, jugglers – name it. The guys in yellow were the stars of the festival.

Mila von Chobiak, the actor, kept his finger on the pulse of the crowd.

The show was seamless and very professional – they instantly grabbed their audience’s attention and held it to the end of the show.

It didn’t take long to make them all dance.

The band even auditioned a new conductor!

When the 30 minutes long show was over, the band played another extra 15 minutes! Brilliant band, I hope to watch their show again next year. They are so attuned to the spirit of the festival, because it is what Spraoi is about – to have fun together!


Thank you for visiting Waterford ūüôā

Here are more links to some of my previous posts about Spraoi:  2015, 2017, 2018.

www.inesemjphotography Have a great weekend!

A look through the Waterford Crystal

waterford crystal

I see them every day Рsoaking wet, miserable groups of tourists trudging up the Henrietta Street in the direction of the best  known  tourist attraction in Ireland: the House of  Waterford Crystal. This post is dedicated to them. In this post I share the images I took yesterday, and the ones that are ten years old. But first the story.

In 1674 George Ravenscroft discovered the technique of adding lead oxide to the silica mixture used to make glass. This resulted in a new type of glass with great clarity which melted easier and could be blown, shaped and cut. There is no uniform definition of “crystal”, but in European Union, the glass products containing at least 24% of lead oxide may be referred to as “lead crystal”, and the products containing less lead (or other metal) oxide are called “crystal glass”.

A number of glass factories were established in Ireland in the 1700’s, mostly on the east coast close to ports since the glass making process required a constant and ready supply of coal.

The glass made at this time was quite similar in style to the cut crystal we know today and in fact, some of the patterns used then are still used in modern ranges.

In 1783 the Penrose brothers established a glass manufactory in Waterford city. It is not related to the modern Waterford Crystal company, but somehow is usually claimed to be a part of its history. Anyway, the Penroses invited a great glass manufacturer of Stourbridge  РMr. John Hill, who had taken with him the best set of workmen he could get, and who knew the secrets of mixing the glass materials. The business flourished. After a few years John Hill left Waterford, and after that the factory had been having its ups and downs, but kept struggling decade after decade until it ceased production in 1851. A whole century there was no glass production in Waterford.

The history of modern Waterford Crystal starts in 1947 when a Czech glass manufacturer Karel (Charles) Bacik emigrated to Ireland and settled in Waterford. In partnership with a Dublin gift-shop owner Bernard Fitzpatrick, he started Waterford Glass. They persuaded a great glass craftsman Miroslav Havel to join them. Havel recruited skilled craftspeople from traditional glassmaking areas of Europe, set up training and apprenticeship programs for Irish personnel, and designed new product ranges. He visited the National Museum and made drawings from the collections of original Penrose Waterford Glass. The factory progressed and made its first profits in 1955.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s demand for Waterford Crystal went up¬†dramatically. The factory was doing great through the 1980’s but started experiencing financial problems in 1990’s. The last and the greatest success was the 6-foot diametric crystal ball made in the factory – the Times Square New Years Eve Millennium Ball that was lowered down the pole during the New Year 2000 countdown. Ironically, it started the Waterford Crystal’s countdown: Waterford Crystal Manufacturing ceased to exist in Waterford city in January 2009. The brand is now co-owned by a US venture capital company KPS, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton (WWRD). In 2010 a new tourism-oriented manufacturing facility and retail outlet reopened in Waterford. The facility offers guided factory tours.

These images are taken in 2005 at the old Waterford Crystal factory workshops.

Waterford Crystal

A glass-blower in action.

Waterford Crystal

Waterford Crystal

Waterford Crystal

The glass is ready for the cutting process. The first vase from the left still has the top to be cut off.

Waterford Crystal

The markings show the future pattern.

Waterford Crystal

In the master’s hands the glass¬†becomes a piece of art.

Waterford Crystal

Waterford Crystal

Waterford Crystal

I was very impressed with this artwork: the girl and the road are cut on the opposite sides of the vase creating a 3D effect.

Waterford Crystal

This sad St. Patrick is a very popular design.

Waterford Crystal

One of the trophy bowls.

Waterford Crystal

This one-horse carriage from 2005 is remarkably upgraded:

Waterford Crystal

its 2015  version Р in the image  below.

Waterford Crystal

The prices are also “upgraded” : this carriage will cost you 30.000 Euro.

The entrance and reception desk at the House Of Waterford Crystal today.

Waterford Crystal

The place is always busy with tourists.

Waterford Crystal

Elaborated chandeliers reflected in the ceiling mirror.

Waterford Crystal

Crystal and silverware on display.

Waterford Crystal

They are still making these funny things, but the prices are very serious Р15.000-30.000 a piece.

Waterford Crystal

There are lots of Christmasy designs, and no discounts, regardless of the season. I think this vase looks very neat.

Waterford Crystal

This was my favorite: the window frame and the room interior are cut on the opposite sides of the vase ( the same as the girl and the road, ten years ago).

Waterford Crystal

I also loved these two  Рa vase and a bowl.

Waterford Crystal

The seahorse is a trademark of Waterford Crystal designed  by Mr. Havel himself.  The harp is another trademark that is slowly replacing the seahorse in the recent years. This one can  be  bought for 40.000 Euros.

Waterford Crystal

After you make a purchase, your artwork of choice can get engraved.

Waterford Crystal

There is another small company set up by the former Waterford Crystal glassmakers – The Irish Handmade Glass Co. It is situated at the Kite Design Studio, Henrietta Street, Waterford. Visitors are welcome to watch the crystal masters at work with no charge.

kite studios

The tourists returning from the House of Waterford Crystal seldom stop here.¬†¬†Some of them stubbornly¬†walk through the rain¬†to the Reginald Tower,¬†but majority hurry down the street to the dry haven of their hotel rooms. ¬†Tourism in Ireland can¬†be challenging…

Instead of a song, I am posting a video reportage that takes you back in time. For Waterford Crystal, it was a triumph of fame.


IneseMjPhotographyHave a great week!