Crystal engraver's White House coup
FOUR years ago, he was on the dole – but yesterday, Sean Egan's handiwork was gifted to US President Barack Obama as part of the St Patrick's festivities.
The master crystal engraver lost his job when the former Waterford Crystal factory closed in 2009 but, having since set up a studio to continue his work, he had the honour of fashioning the glass bowl filled with shamrock, which was handed over by Enda Kenny in the White House.
Entitled 'The Gathering Bowl', the piece was a labour of love for the Waterford man who has been a master engraver for almost four decades.
He established Sean Egan Art Glass with the support of the enterprise board in Waterford after he was made redundant from Waterford Crystal.
Mr Egan was contacted by the Department of the Taoiseach and asked to submit some designs for this year's shamrock bowl.
His finished piece features a ship, a Celtic knot and two harps surrounded by engraved shamrock, all under the theme of The Gathering.
"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."
The bowl of shamrock tradition started in 1953.
"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, and the engraved shamrocks are a symbol of the Irish diaspora."
Enterprise board CEO Ciaran Cullen said Mr Egan was "the true embodiment" of the entrepreneurial spirit alive in Ireland.