Pictured above, is Sean Egan, who up until February last had worked for 35 years in Waterford Crystal. He has now set up a new business based in the Waterford Museum of Treasures at The Granary, engraving crystal.
Sean does beautiful artistic pieces, special commissions, sports trophies or personal items for anniversaries etc. You can see in the other photo above, the detail on a fantastic piece that Sean designed and made in memory of the 9-11 Twin Towers heroes.
I sincerely hope that Seans' business will take off and that there is some future for micro-crystal industries which might build up in the wake of the demise of 'the Glass'. I salute Sean, who is facing an uncertain future right now, for his bravery in taking this step and going it alone. It is a daunting task and can be a lonely one. I hope that the people of Waterford and surrounds will think of Sean and others like him and support them in their efforts both to keep some crystal related industry in Waterford and, indeed very importantly, to make a living.
I hope the tourists come in numbers to the Granary and I hope that Sean, trading as Sean Egan Art Glass can make it. It is at least good to know that there is somewhere that tourists can still see the magnificent artistry of Sean on display in the heart of the City. Sean works away all day in the (gorgeous) cafe downstairs at the Museum and his craft and skill is there for all to see.
It was a sad day for Waterford and Ireland (and an unforgivable one) when The Glass was allowed to go. I cannot understand it. Would Guinnesses have been allowed to go from Dublin? I suspect not. And why has everything gone so quiet? There is not one word about the factory, its' demise or the fate of the hundreds of men and women and their pensions or redundancy payments. I do not feel comfortable about the current state of play and feel that the workers and the city have suffered the worst possible outcome.
I regularly go out to Gatchells cafe in the Visitors Centre, and it is almost like a ghost town in comparison to the hive of activitiy it once was. The lack of a factory tour (visitors now simply watch a video in a small area where once they boarded the tour bus) has meant that the attractiveness of visiting the centre is much diminshed. It's just a shop now - although a nice one. But a shop, however nice cannot really serve as a visitor attraction strong enough to attract 300,000 visitors a year.
I hear that many tour operators are simply cancelling visits. Visits which it will be very difficult to re-instigate if and when a factory tour of some sort is ever re-introduced.
The whole issue for some reason I can't put my finger on, feels suspect to me. I can't help wondering who is benefitting from the whole sorry mess. For it certainly isn't the workers or the city. I really feel that we do not know the full story but that in time, this may emerge. I feel it in my bones, as they say.
I hope that at the very least, something good, in the form of linked industries like Seans, can grow and thrive it the wake of such a disaster. Support is what he needs. Come on Waterford, get in and support Sean, the cafe and indeed our precious and spectaular museum.