The history of crystal production in Waterford goes back to the 1700s, and it is a tradition that has only strengthened with time. As I’m sure you are aware, the county is still renowned for its crystal to this day.
Eamonn Terry, a master craftsman glasscutter, is one such person who is woven into this tradition. With his business Criostal na Rinne, he won the home category of last year’s Irish Made Awards.
Criostal na Rinne is a hand-cut crystal workshop, situated in the picturesque Gaeltacht of An Rinn, Co Waterford.
Having started his career with Waterford Crystal, Eamonn set up Criostal na Rinne in 1987. At the small, family-run workshop, the team crafts precise hand-cut crystal products for customers around the world.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic swept around the world last year, Criostal na Rinne launched its latest collection, Tonn – meaning “wave” or “sea swell”. The collection includes white wine, red wine and gin glasses, each hand cut with gentle lines conjuring the ever-moving swells along the Irish coastline.
Now in its fifth year, the Irish Made Awards are open for entries once again. With the only requirement being that your product is produced here on the island of Ireland, designers, makers and craftspeople are encouraged to enter their business in one of the 10 categories of the awards. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking back at some of the previous winners and how their businesses have coped during the pandemic.
Founder & owner of Criostal na Rinne
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I want each product and design I make to tell a story. To do this I take inspiration from things like nature, our culture and language, and from history. With our Criostal na Rinne workshop located here in the Waterford Gaeltacht of An Rinn, right on the south coast, there’s no shortage of inspiration. For example, our latest design and collection of glasses, Tonn, is inspired by the sea that surrounds us.
What is the best thing about making your products in Ireland?
Waterford is an area with a well-known history for making hand-cut crystal, so it’s great to be able to continue that tradition, especially here in the Gaeltacht. Irish people continue to support the craft by buying local and the contemporary designs are proving popular with an Irish audience locally and those living abroad.
There’s also great support and advice from business point of view with a range of agencies to help craftspeople such as Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Design and Craft Council Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office.
What is the best piece of business advice you ever got?
Don’t try and do everything yourself. For example, the design of our new e-commerce website was implemented by the creative experts in this field. By following this advice, it has given me more time to focus on designing and making my crystalware.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Thanks to campaigns like #ShopLocal and #MadeLocal, the awareness of the work of Irish craftspeople has really grown. We have seen an increase in our online sales during this time, however we really miss being able to welcome people into our workshop and give demonstrations of the craft.
There is so much to see and do in West Waterford, we hope to be a destination for staycations this summer, especially with the Greenway in Dungarvan too. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back into our workshop when it is safe to do so.
How do gifting occasions or popular trends influence the growth of your business?
Irish whiskey has made a real comeback in recent years, which has been a fantastic boost for sales of our whiskey crystal glass collection. A good whiskey is so much more enjoyable from a heavy well-made tumbler like our Cló and Ceo range. Similarly, the trend to enjoy Irish gin in many different serving styles has seen the popularity of our Tonn glasses grow.
It’s important for people to know that they are buying an environmentally friendly product now too. Thankfully, glass is widely recycled, and I source my packaging and printing from Irish suppliers who use sustainable recyclable and compostable materials.
What does the future hold for the skill and craft of crystal making in Ireland?
I am positive about the future of the craft in Ireland especially for the small-scale studio workshop that is agile, can sell online, and design and make crystal products in small batches. There’s been a resurgence of interest in the craft of crystal making, and I think people like having useful objects with a contemporary feel and that have a strong story.
What do you do to relax?
I like to take a walk on the greenway near Dungarvan or on the local beaches here like the Cunnigar in An Rinn.
To find out more and enter the Irish Made Awards 2021, see irishcountrymagazine.ie/awards.