Athenry Crystal: The Success Story - Martin O'Grady


In the age of mass production, where quantity rather than quality is what matters, it is nice to come across a business where these considerations are reversed.

Athenry Crystal is such a story. Started in 1991 by Martie and Claire Noone, Athenry Crystal is firmly established and their work is to be found worldwide. Martie is a master glass-cutter with a background of 25 years in Galway Crystal; in the late sixties he worked in their initial factory which was an old shed in Nuns Island.

Martie, from Caraun (on the border of parishes New Inn and Kiltullagh), went straight into glass-cutting after he finished in the local Vocational school. In the early nineties with the future of Galway Crystal being unsure, he decided to go into business on his own. He found a suitable workshop in Athenry and has been working out of there ever since.

Martie was delighted with the response of the Athenry community towards his products. With the backing of his wife Claire, who looks after the business end of the operation, Martie concentrates solely on the design and handcutting of the pieces. The wide range of designs which he produces to each customer’s own personal requirements is a testimony to the success of the business. The range of pieces include Brandy, Whiskey and Wine glasses and decanters. Gift items include vases, ice buckets, jugs and plates.

Each piece can be engraved to the customer’s own personal requirement. After design each piece is hand cut on a stone wheel, where a continuous flow of water upon the wheel keeps the glass cooled, when complete the piece is polished in acid to bring up the sparkle.

A former keen hurler, his main pastime now is golf. He plays off a low handicap and he is a member of the local club. 
Martie lives in Árd Aoibhinn and his work is also on display in J.J. Brady’s window on Chapel Street. His experience and pride in his work insures that only the finest quality products will bear the Athenry Crystal name. 

With a heavy emphasis on academic results from young people nowadays, inbuilt talents and skills may be sacrificed, therefore Martie would hope in the  future to pass on the craft to some young Athenry person with an interest in the craft of glass-cutting.


Martin O’Grady for the Athenry Journal August 1995


    

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