From the dole to the White House for master engraver

Former Waterford Crystal glass maker designs Gathering Bowl for US president

Master crystal engraver Seán Egan lost his job when the former Waterford Crystal factory closed in 2009

Master crystal engraver Seán Egan lost his job when the former Waterford Crystal factory closed in 2009


Four years ago he was on the dole, but yesterday the work of master crystal engraver Seán Egan was seen around the world, as it was presented by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to US president Barack Obama.

Mr Egan was one of those who lost their jobs when the former Waterford Crystal factory closed in 2009. But since then he has gone out on his own.

This specially commissioned piece, called The Gathering Bowl , was a labour of love for the Waterford man, who has been a master engraver for almost four decades. Previous commissions include a piece designed as a tribute to the victims of 9/11, received by then US ambassador Dan Rooney. Then he got the call from the Department of the Taoiseach asking him to submit some design ideas for this year’s shamrock bowl. His finished piece features a famine ship, a Celtic knot and two harps surrounded by engraved shamrock.

Bowled over
“When I got the call from the Taoiseach’s office I was absolutely delighted,” he said. “To go from the dole queue to the White House in four years is brilliant.” His company, Seán Egan Art Glass, is based in the Kite Design Studio, in the heart of Waterford’s Viking Triangle, and is supported by the Waterford City Enterprise Board.

“I wanted the bowl to represent all that is good about Ireland,” Mr Egan said. “We have a wonderful and warm tapestry of culture, music, art and language. The Tall Ship is returning to our shore as part of the Gathering festivities, while the harps represent our rich musical tradition.

The Celtic knot is representative of the timeless nature of our spirit, with no beginning and no end and the engraved shamrocks are a symbol of the Irish diaspora.”

‘Entrepreneurial spirit’
Enterprise board chief executive Ciarán Cullen said Mr Egan was “the true embodiment” of the entrepreneurial spirit in Ireland.

“His perseverance, talent and resolve have gotten him where he is today. Seeing one’s work presented by
An Taoiseach to the president of the United States of
America is, without doubt, a marvellous accomplishment.”

The craftsman’s next project may be displayed in the 9/11 Memorial Museum due to open next year in New York.