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.
However, the Waterford Crystal story started to blossom in 1783 when two brothers, George and William Penrose, founded their crystal manufacturing business in the busy port of Waterford. They were important developers and the city's principal exporters. The development, they told the Irish Parliament, cost Â£10,000 - a great deal of money in the 18th century.
They employed 50 to 70 people, led by a fellow Quaker, John Hill, from Stourbridge in England, and succeeded in producing crystal with a purity of colour unmatched in Ireland or England. Merchant ships sailed regularly from the port of Waterford with cargoes of crystal bound for Spain, the West Indies, New York, New England and Newfoundland.
But less than 100 years later the initial company failed due to lack of capital and excessive taxation. In what seems a remarkably short time, Waterford Crystal acquired an unequalled reputation that has transcended the intervening centuries.
Another century passed before the enterprise was revived. In 1947, while Europe was still in ruins after the second World War, a small glass factory was set up in Waterford just 11/2 miles from the site of the original glass factory.
Waterford Crystal today has very strong links with its illustrious predecessor. There is today the same dedication to the purity of color, to the same design inspiration and to the same pursuit of highest quality levels possible. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company.
Waterford Crystal, today, is the leading brand of premium crystal. Its products - superb handcrafted crystal stemware, giftware and lightingware - are designed and manufactured to the highest standards.
House of Ireland is the leading retail and online store of Waterford Crystal in Ireland. We have been providing our Waterford Crystal mail-order service since 1975 and we were the first online retailer in Ireland to sell Waterford Crystal when our site was initially established in 1995. At House of Ireland we are proud to showcase the largest online collection of Waterford Crystal and invite you to shop for your Waterford Crystal gifts with us on www.houseofireland.com.