During our final two weeks in Ireland, a lot happened. Here’s the first of two catch-up posts, and then we’ll be sharing some information about Candy’s graduation and what is happening these days.
We both continued to help out at St. Mary’s, and Tim continued teaching 10- and 11-year-old boys basketball in PE class at St. Patrick’s in the city center. On October 8th we decided to drive down to Waterford, Ireland, to visit and tour the Waterford Crystal factory. We took some smaller roads off the beaten path, and stopped to walk through the ruins of Achaboe Abbey, which was pretty neat! Here is a video from inside the abbey.
Once in Waterford, we went to the Waterford Crystal retail showroom and wandered around it before taking the Waterford factory tour. You’ll easily tell who took what photos during this visit, as Tim’s are mostly of sports trophies! I have to say, though, it was pretty incredible to witness the master crystal makers at work! Here are three videos showing the men hand-blowing the crystal (video1, video2, video3). We learned that each of the workers apprentices for 8 years, focused on a single aspect of making crystal, and that they do not cross-train! They make 2-3 copies of each commissioned piece, like the old BCS college football trophy, in case the one that’s out in the world should be damaged. We saw from afar the copies of various well-known trophies. Also, Waterford does not keep or sell any piece that is flawed in any way. No seconds. Ever.
After a quick drive down the coast to Ardmore and a quick look at the Round Tower there (Tim took some great photos!), we returned to Waterford and spent the night at the Fitzwilton Hotel on Bridge Street, just off the quay. It was a lovely hotel and we enjoyed a great breakfast there the next morning before leaving for Bray. The drive was really beautiful, and the weather was sunny. The trees were clothed in pretty fall colors, and we saw a cool stone bridge (video) as well as more tree tunnels.
Bray is just south of Dublin and situated right on the coast. We went there mainly to watch the St. Mary’s College boys play Presentation College in basketball. Ask us sometime about the short benches used by the teams and any spectators who happen to be around! From Bray we drove back to Galway, following the team and joining them for a quick stop at Applegreen off the motorway.