2014 – Day Thirteen

Morning wasted on the eternal quest for connectivity. We may have
a solution – we’ve given up on a phone sim solution as the data
limits are low and instead bought a mobile wifi device that can
allegedly connect up to ten devices. It’s charging as I type, time will
tell.

More importantly, we’re off to tour the Waterford factory today. The
show room is stunning, with virtuality the whole range of crystal
ware, and many show pieces including a stunningly carved eagle, a
bear and Cinderella’ glass carriage complete with horses.

Our tour guide takes us through the company’s long history
(currently owned by an American investment company) and then
we’re off to see the craftsmen at work. The men here train for 5
years as a base apprentice, and then for 2, 3, 4 or more years to
become a master, depending on whether they shape and blow
pieces, mark the patterns, cut them, sculpt from a solid piece of
crystal, or are part of the engraving team. At the end of the
production stage, each piece is dull until it’s washed in acid to strip
away the top layer and reveal the sparkle. It’s spectacularly intricate
work, and we get to see the men at work in each stage of the
process. We also see a whole series of trophies from various world
sporting and entertainment events that are copies “just in case”.
Everything is done by hand except for large custom intricate pieces
that are diamond cut by machine. We see two of those in action too.

We are repeatedly told that if a flaw is discovered at any stage of
the process, that the piece is destroyed and they start again. It’s all
very impressive, but the bit that blows me away the most is the
cutting. The cutters either train in wedge cutting, or plane cutting,
and each cut is judged by hand for depth and shape. If you’ve ever
looked at a Waterford glass, or better yet, a set of them, and seen
how perfectly symmetrical each cut is, on the glass and within the
set, you’ll realise how extraordinarily skilled these guys are. Many of
them have over 30 years experience at their craft. Very impressed.

We finish in the show room and debate our “souvenir”. I want
martini glasses, but could be talked into another piece. In the end
we buy the most magnificent green cocktail glasses, Chris picks the
green, fitting as our souvenir from Ireland. We arrange to ship them
home (with Juz hopefully being able to sign for them) and head out.
Fabulous. Can’t wait for my first martini in one. They are going to
look stunning under the lights in my crystal cabinet.

That being done, it’s off for a refreshing drink, then on the road
again. A seaside stop again, in the town of Dungarvan. It looks very
pretty as we approach down the hill.

Settled, we take off on a bike ride to explore. Who would have
thought…I LOVE my bike. I remember how much I loved my bike in
my teens – it was the closest to freedom I ever came.

Once back, I gird my loins and tackle the internet connectivity. And,
would you believe it, with only one small misstep, I get it working.
Daniel would be proud of me. Either that or he’d roll his eyes
wondering what on earth was so hard to start with.

Mission accomplished, I will sign off and celebrate with many
Manhattans. Yay me. I have fabulous martini glasses, a bike I love,
and the internet. What more could a girl want?

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