Bringing a centuries-old craft back to life in County Tyrone

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A centuries-old skill is being revived in Northern Ireland.

Glass and crystal-cutting in County Tyrone was once world-renowned and the craft in the area dates back to 1771.

However, it wasn’t until the company Tyrone Crystal was founded in 1971 that its glass and crystal products were shipped across the world.

The company was founded by Catholic priest Fr Austin Eustace, who was a nuclear physicist as well as an expert on glass production.

He started the business as a solution to rising unemployment in the area at the time.

The Dungannon-based business was a success as crystal became popular for wedding and retirement gifts in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, the company experienced a downturn as a demand for its products decreased. The Tyrone Crystal factory closed in 2010 and this saw the glass-cutting craft virtually disappear from the county.

Now, more than a decade later, there are fresh attempts to ensure these skills are kept alive.

A community-based glassworks has been set up to help train the next generation of glass and crystal craft workers.

Tyrone Crafted Glass includes ex-employees of Tyrone Crystal and former master glass-cutters.

It has been supported by the Lough Neagh Partnership, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Mid Ulster District Council.

Video journalist: Niall McCracken

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