West Kerry will be in the limelight in Washington on St Patrick’s Day when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar uses a handcrafted Dingle Crystal bowl to make the traditional presentation of shamrock to US President Joe Biden.
The beehive huts of West Kerry and Skellig Michael provided the design inspiration for the centrepiece bowl that was hand cut by Seán Daly in Dingle Crystal’s’ factory in Ballinaboula.
And maintaining the Kerry theme, the bowl will be filled with shamrock grown in Ballinskelligs by Joe Sugrue, who has been providing shamrock for the presentation to the president of the USA for the past 50 years.
“The Taoiseach’s office asked if we’d be interested in making a bowl for the presentation and we were absolutely delighted to do it,” Seán told The Kerryman as he displayed a replica of the bowl that has already been dispatched to Washington in advance of the Taoiseach’s visit.
This is the second year in a row that Dingle Crystal has made the shamrock presentation bowl for the White House and the publicity it has generated has given a huge boost to the family business that was established in a small outlet in Orchard Lane, Dingle, in 1999 by Seán Daly and his wife Liz (RIP).
“We’ve never been so busy. A huge amount of Americans called to the factory and shop last summer and at the height of the season we were exporting three pallets of cut glass per week, mostly to the US,” said Seán.
That flood of American visitors included country and western icon Garth Brooks who bought a hefty stock of hand-cut whiskey glasses.
“This is a very special year for me,” said Seán. “When I was 15 years old I joined Waterford Crystal and in February I celebrated 50 years handcrafting crystal.
“Little did I realise walking in the gates of Waterford Crystal that I’d be one of the few people in Ireland hand-crafting crystal 50 years later or that I’d be making a bowl for the president of the United States.”