18th and 19th-Century Irish Glass
The appearance of high-quality Irish flint glass was brought about through the enactment of three laws affecting glass manufacture and trade during the 1770s and 1780s. With the lifting of restrictions, business-minded individuals considered the production of glass in Ireland a viable opportunity. A period of prosperity in glass making would develop until the imposition of trade restrictions (the Irish Excise Act) in 1825. It has been remarked by some commentators that one characteristic of late 18th/early 19th-Century Irish glass was an increased use of metal in the glass content, thereby leading to particular designs associated with the period. It was at this time that a pinnacle of industrial glass manufacture was achieved in the cities of Waterford, Cork, Belfast and Dublin.
In 1783 George and William Penrose established flint glass manufacture in Waterford; that same year, the Cork Glass Company was founded by Messrs. Hayes, Burnett and Rowe. In 1776, Benjamin Edwards set up a glassworks at Ballymacarrett outside Belfast. The principal names associated with glass manufacture in Dublin were Richard Williams & Co. (1764 - c.1827) and Charles Mulvany (1785 - 1846).
There are several objects on show exhibiting shapes traditionally linked to Irish glass. Examples include the bowl with turned-over rim; the covered jar whose lid sits on an upturned flange; the kettle-drum bowl which contains a centre well for the collection of drained juice; the ewer with curved handle noted for its aesthetic quality rather than practicality; and the dish/plate renowned for the variety of its shapes and sizes.
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