Irish heritage takes pride of place on Shamrock Bowl

 Crystal bowl designed by ex-Waterford Crystal master engraver presented to U.S. President Obama by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD

It was a proud moment in Waterford’s esteemed history of glass manufacturing as, this year, the traditional bowl of shamrock presented to the US President on St. Patrick’s Day originated in the Crystal County.

Sean Egan of Sean Egan Art Glass had the great honour of designing and crafting the stunning piece, entitled the “Gathering Bowl”, which was presented to Barack Obama by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD on Tuesday, March 19th, following the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The first presentation of a bowl of shamrock to a U.S. President took place in 1953, when President Eisenhower accepted the gift from Ambassador Hearne. The first Taoiseach to present shamrock rather than the Ambassador was John A. Costello in 1956. The next Taoiseach was Jack Lynch in 1971, and subsequently the gift of shamrock was invariably from the Taoiseach-in-office to the President of the United States.

Following his redundancy from Waterford Crystal in 2009, Sean established Sean Egan Art Glass and is now based in the Kite Design Studio in the heart of Waterford’s Viking Triangle.  A former master engraver with almost 40 years experience, Sean has created some memorable pieces and in particular is renowned for his 9/11 Twin Towers commemorative sculptures, which were presented to former US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney.

In the world of show biz, Sean was commissioned to create a piece honouring the Monty Python member Graham Chapman who died in 1989.  The Monty Python film “A Liar’s Autobiography” was based on the memoirs of the late Python and the film’s promotional poster was replicated in perfect detail on a flat glass piece.

Several months ago, Sean was contacted by the Department of the Taoiseach and asked to submit some designs for the “shamrock bowl”.  Utilising his keen eye for detail and creative flair, Sean’s outline mainly depicts The Gathering and features a famine ship, an interweaved Celtic knot and two harps surrounded by engraved shamrock.

According to Sean, it was a labour of love.  “When I got the call from the Taoiseach’s office I was absolutely delighted!  Who could have ever imagined that this time four years ago I was on the dole and today my work is being presented to the President of the United States?”

“I wanted the bowl to represent all that is good about Ireland.  We have a wonderful and warm tapestry of culture, music, art and language.  The tall ship is returning to our shore as part of The Gathering festivities while the harps represent our rich musical tradition. The Celtic knot is representative of the timeless nature of our spirit, with no beginning and no end and the engraved shamrocks are a symbol of the Irish diaspora.”

Mr. Ciaran Cullen, CEO, Waterford City Enterprise Board, which supports the Kite Design Studio project and the businesses within, said that this was the ultimate honour for Sean.  “Waterford City Enterprise Board has worked closely with Sean since he established Sean Egan Art Glass.  Sean is the true embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit that is fighting fit in Ireland and particularly in Waterford.  His perseverance, talent and resolve have gotten him where he is today.  Seeing one’s work presented by An Taoiseach to the President of the United States of America is, without doubt, a marvellous accomplishment.”

Far from resting on his laurels, Sean is in negotiations with Colonel Jim Tierney of the U.S. Army and is finalising plans for a new project that could see his work displayed in the 9/11 Memorial Museum which is due to open at Ground Zero in September 2014.  The piece will be a tribute to the Fighting Irish 69th Regiment, which was one of the first responders to the Twin Towers attacks, losing two of its personnel.

Sean added “I plan to keep creating pieces that are indicative of the times we live in, that symbolise courage, bravery and overcoming adversity.  There are so many compelling stories to be told and my way of telling them is through the art of glass.”

For further information about Sean Egan Art Glass and further details about his many exciting projects visit