Belfast Telegraph

Future of Tyrone Crystal unclear

By Margaret Canning

You can be certain that nearly all married couples of a certain age in Northern Ireland will have one of its hand-made glass products — but the future of the Ulster’s best-known brand of fancy goods now looks uncertain.

The 37 employees of Tyrone Crystal Giftware in Dungannon were informed on Friday that the business was being sold.

And although an official company spokesman was not available to confirm the business was for sale, the Belfast Telegraph has learned that accountants BDO have been helping market the business to prospective buyers in England and Ireland.

The business was bought four years ago by a group of businessmen led by Peter Maginnis and Nigel Blackburn, some time after it had been subject to a management buyout.

Their intervention was welcomed as they had saved a well-loved business and secured the jobs of the workers, most of whom were from the surrounding area and many who had worked in the company for around 30 years.

Dungannon has been linked with crystal-making since the 1770s — but it wasn’t until two centuries later that local priest Father Austin Eustace sought to revive the tradition in a bid to provide jobs.

The business was a success as crystal became a fashionable wedding and retirement gift in the 1970s and 1980s. A glistening new factory, also intended to attract tourists interested in glass-blowing, was opened in 1990.

However, in more recent times, tastes have changed.

As Dungannon Ulster Unionist councillor Walter Cuddy pointed out, crystal is no longer as far up the wishlist for engaged couples as it once was. But he said it would be a shame if the company did not survive the present uncertainty.

Belfast Telegraph

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