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The beauty of Irish Crystal



It was only when in 1676, English art-glass-maker George Ravenscroft patented the discovery of adding lead oxide to the core materials, resulting in the molten glass becoming a remarkably clear and hard glass when cooled, but also open to carving.

While the addition of lead makes the material more difficult to blow, the Irish would develop techniques that support lead contents as high as 33%, the modern mark of fine lead crystal.

The next event of note for Ireland was to take place in 1685, when King Louis XIV of France repealed the Edict of Nantes, which for French and Flemish Huguenots, resulted in open persecution and loss of freedoms. Their only realistic option was to flee from France, a large number arriving in England and Ireland. They were incredibly creative and artistic as a people, helping to develop pottery to building techniques, glassware to baking and a thousand between!

Their expertise in glass-making as an art, was to arrive in Ireland and help launch the lead crystal glass business, as a business and not just as an art-form.

In the 18th century, new laws were introduced banning the use of wood as fuel in the making glass.

It was this legislation that caused the grouping of glass manufacturers around port cities such as Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Waterford, as coal had to be imported by ships. Furthermore, it became commercially astute to be based at the heart of both the import state of raw materials as well as export for the final created product.

In 1771, the first crystal factory in Ireland was established in Dungannon, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Some of the most critically acclaimed and finest mouth-blown crystal in the world comes from the Tyrone Irish Crystal factory.

In 1783, brothers George and William Penrose founded the Penrose Glass House in Waterford.

In 1783, the Cork Glass House was established.

 In 1818, The Waterloo Glass Company and the Terrace Glass Works were established in Cork

There was also a tax loophole for Ireland, where unlike in Scotland and England, tax was not applied on the raw materials used in glass-making, making it highly productive and profitable. However, it would not last, such oversights seldom do, and in 1825 the tax paid elsewhere was also introduced to glass producers in Ireland.

Due to the Great Hunger of the 1840's which resulted in mass emigration, many of the artisans and crafts people also left Ireland. By the 1850's the once productive and powerful Irish glass industry was all but extinct.

Only in the 20th century would the Lead Crystal business of Ireland begin to once again flourish. Allowing the natural creativity of the Irish people to be developed and put to use.