Waterford is a name synonymous with fine crystal. The history of the Waterford Company goes back to 1783. The Irish factory quickly became known for its clear crystal and superior level of craftsmanship. High costs and excessive taxation forced the closing of the initial enterprise in 1851. But in 1947, Waterford resumed operations with the same attention to detail as before. Today, customers across the globe seek out Waterford "suites," or patterns, many of them bearing names that recall the company's Irish heritage.
Though not Waterford's oldest pattern, Lismore is certainly one of its most popular. Introduced on October 23, 1952, the pattern takes its name from an ancient Irish village, named Lios Mor Mocuda. The pattern features stylized flowers with a prominent, spear-shaped central bloom that rises out of a star-shaped base. The star has four points, the top one larger and more pointed. The flowers alternate between taller and shorter, and appear to grow out of a bed that consists of a double row of smaller star-shaped bases, like those that form the bases of the flowers.
From an Irish girl's name meaning "darling," Alana debuted in 1952. The pattern highlights Waterford craftsmanship through its use of brilliant facets cut into the glass. Row after row of tiny interconnected triangles, or wedges, encircle goblets, bowls and vases. The close-packed design is topped by large pointed and smaller curved battlements, the taller battlements crowned by finials that appear like stylized leaves on the tops of pineapples.
Colleen, from Irish words that mean "young girl," was added to the Waterford lineup in 1968. The pattern is a departure from the continuous designs of Lismore and Alana. A row of tall ovals dominates each Colleen piece. On a goblet, the ovals actually occupy about half the height of the glass. The bases of the ovals rest on a band of cut glass that is a virtual copy of the Alana pattern.
The following year, Waterford introduced Powerscourt, a departure from the company's celebration of the beauty of Irish women. Powerscourt is a stylized representation of a garden of the same name in County Wicklow. Incised pointed leaves form large interconnected diamond patterns in a display of decoration that largely covers each piece. The sharp forms of the leaves, and the open, diamond-shaped areas in between each set of four, remind the viewer of the Asian flora of the Powerscourt Garden. A single band of paired, round-ended leaves floats above the main design.
Kenmare, named for a seaside town, was first made in 1968, and combines certain features of Waterford's other patterns. In Kenmare, the tall ovals of Colleen alternate with thin blades of grass that reach almost to the top of the piece. The bases of the ovals and the grass float on top of the close-packed facets of the Alana design. But, in this case, the Alana pattern is topped by long, rounded, spreading leaves that recall both Ireland's rich foliage and the ocean's rolling waves.