Shattering blow for workforce as iconic Tyrone Crystal dies
One worker summed it up: “We are a big family and today has been like a bereavement.”
The firm has been part of the south Tyrone economy for almost 40 years, providing work for hundreds of families.
Yesterday overcast skies matched the gloomy mood at the Dungannon factory as news of the closure was confirmed.
Today the workers will leave for the last time and the final piece of glass will roll off the production line.
Employees knew the business was struggling, but there was still shock and sadness.
Many have spent a lifetime here, and yesterday afternoon workers gathered to share memories and swap stories.
Meanwhile people were packing into the factory shop to snap up a piece of crystal before the doors shut for the final time.
Established in 1971 by Fr Austin Eustace to create employment in the area, Tyrone Crystal emerged as one of Ulster’s iconic industries.
Over time the business became a global ambassador for Irish craftsmanship.
But despite worldwide success it remained part of the community and its current workforce still lives in the wider Dungannon area.
Shop steward Martin Mohan, a worker at the plant for 35 years, said the company’s closure would have a devastating effect on employees.
“Cutting and blowing glass takes so many years to train,” he said. “You spend so long at one thing, you don’t know anything else. So many people in south Tyrone have worked here down the years.
“People are dumbfounded by the news. There was uncertainty, but it doesn’t hit home until you hear that it’s the end.
Like many, Patrick Colton joined Tyrone Crystal after leaving school and has worked at the company for 23 years.
“All my working life has been spent here,” he said. “There is a lot of sadness. We’re not work colleagues here, we are friends.
Jim Regan, from Moy, likened the news to a family death.
“It’s the break-up of a family and it is like a bereavement,” he said. “I’ve been here 35 years and I’ll wake up tomorrow with nothing there for me.”