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Too Bad Waterford Didn't Make Crystal Balls

Christina Talcott

For years, visitors to Dublin have been taking side trips (and getting lost on the way, it must be admitted) to the town of Waterford, 100 miles south. Its presence on the Irish dance card was attributable in large part to the world-famous crystal company located there and especially the Waterford factory tour, which drew more than 300,000 patrons a year -- one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland.

But, as a reader informed us during a recent online chat (thanks, "London"!), Waterford has apparently become another casualty of the economic crisis. The factory itself closed on Jan. 30. The workers staged a sit-in almost immediately, and as of now Waterford remains closed.

The crystal company, part of Waterford Wedgwood PLC, says it's looking for a buyer, but the future of the factory and its tours is very much in doubt. Gone, at least for now, are the glass-blowers and etchers and the Times Square exhibit devoted to the spangly orb Waterford designed for New York's millennial New Year's Eve ball drop.

Regular readers of CoGo will remember that it was just a few months ago that Waterford unveiled its latest creation, a new 12-foot Times Square ball, which descended from its pole for the first time this past New Year's Eve. A high-tech effort composed of 2,668 Waterford crystals, the ball was not only designed not only to make that annual descent for years to come but also to be visible atop its pole year-round. It sits there now, apparently, shivering in the February wind.

Prospective visitors to the Waterford factory might want to check the company's Web site -- even though as of now it gives no indication that the factory is even closed.

By Christina Talcott |  February 18, 2009; 8:05 AM ET  | Category:  Europe , In the News , Scott Vogel
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During a November 2008 driving trip through Ireland my husband and I skipped the "mandatory" visit to Waterford and the crystal factory and visited Kilkenny instead. No regrets!

Posted by: kbockl | February 18, 2009 9:41 AM

You don't know what you missed! I never appreciated the true quality of Waterford until my husband I visited in 2004. To watch the craftsmen - many 2nd or 3rd generation - handcraft the crystal was amazing! We reallt enjoyed the morning we spent there and are saddened by the closing of the factory.

Posted by: jerseygirl5 | February 18, 2009 11:26 AM

Oh, but Jerseygirl - you have no IDEA how much fun we had in Kilkenny! The city itself is really beautiful, and we happened to have unexpectedly mild and sunny weather. But the best part was getting lost lokking for a recommended pub that had traditional music. Instead we wearily stumbled into the Paris Texas Pub where a group called the Kilkennys was playing the type of Irish music we hear in the US to an enthusiastic group of Irishmen and women. We met some great people who have become good Facebook friends, and even got a ride home from the band. It was the highlight of our 8 day trip!

Posted by: kbockl | February 19, 2009 11:17 AM

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